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Beware! Child Predators Are Targeting Moms

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Before the Internet, child predators had to "groom" their victims in person -- often taking weeks or months to gain the trust of their prey.

Beware! Child Predators are Targeting Moms

The Internet allowed pedophiles a whole new way to access children -- by pretending to be other kids, they can specifically target children in order to lure them into dangerous situations.

And now, if that wasn't bad enough, child predators have found a new, and more disturbing, way to get close to your children -- through you.

Momlogic contributor and Internet Safety Specialist Lori Getz made us aware of one of the scariest new trends among child predators -- infiltrating parenting websites and befriending parents in order to get to their kids:

Let me give you an example. You are a new parent again, you already have a 4-year-old, and now you have a beautiful new baby who just won't sleep. You don't remember having this same issue with the older one (we all know how amnesia sets in), and you are desperate for sleep. It's 3 AM and you are searching for answers on the Internet.

You come across a parenting networking site where you can ask questions of experts and get advice from other parents dealing with similar issues. A young dad logs in and sees your desperate post about sleep training. He knows the perfect person to help you. He even sends you a message through the system with the sleep trainer's name and phone number and his personal e-mail address in case you need more support. You are grateful for the advice, log off, and wait for morning to call the sleep trainer for help.

To be polite, you send the dad a thank-you note, and after a few e-mail exchanges, you realize you two have a lot in common. Your kids are the same age; you live near one another and even play at the same park. So you set up a playdate. However, when your new friend arrives, he tells you the kids got sick but he wanted to come by and say hello in person. You are excited to introduce your new friend to the other parents at the park and subsequently your children and all of your friends' kids too.

STOP! You may have just let a predator into your life, and because you trust this person, so will your children.

Predators are lurking in parenting networking sites, teachers' forums, and anywhere else they believe they can cultivate relationships with adults that may lead them to children.

When a teacher brings in an expert on volcanoes to demonstrate the power of ammonium dichromate, the students believe this is someone they can trust. "If Mr. Johnson trusts him, I can too." But where did Mr. Johnson meet this expert? Is he really there for the benefit of education, or does he have an ulterior motive?

We, as adults, need to be careful who we let into our lives and the lives of our children. Once a child trusts a predator, it is easy for the predator to manipulate that child. Using the friendship and trust the predator has established with the adult can actually be used against the child. "Your teacher will be impressed if you come with me to finish an extra credit project." Or "Your mommy sent me to pick you up. Remember me? She introduced us at the park."

According to Getz, it is important that we keep this in mind the next time we log onto any site where we can communicate with strangers. Follow these tips to ensure everyone's safety:

1. Create a screen name that does not give away personal information. Your online name should consist of random letters and numbers and not your real name or the names of your kids. Do not give anyone an opportunity to use your personal information in your screen name to strike up a conversation.

2. Use a pseudo-identity. Use a fake name every time you set up an online account for any networking site, forum, blog, or wiki.

3. Never give an online stranger the opportunity to meet you or your children face-to-face. Like I say to the kids, it's better to hurt someone's feelings than put you or your family in harm's way.

4. Report suspicious behavior. Just use common sense here. If you see something on a forum that looks suspicious or makes you uncomfortable, contact the webmaster immediately!

Parenting networks, teacher forums, and help columns are great ways to get information -- just don't use them to make new friends!

next: Can Flirting HELP Your Marriage?
15 comments so far | Post a comment now
Megan M. October 27, 2009, 5:33 AM

I hate to say it but this article is NOTHING new. We ALL know child predators can be ANYONE on and off the internet. They can be teachers and priests, neighbors, friends and even family. Whoever wrote up this scenario is also stretching it because obviously you aren’t going to introduce your children to a total stranger regardless how many e-mails you send. And if you do, maybe you should start thinking with your head and bring your backside back down to earth.

Trina October 27, 2009, 7:00 AM

I think most mom’s wouldn’t go meet a strange man somewhere anyway so this scenario isn’t very helpful.

Steven October 27, 2009, 8:32 AM

Way to spread fear and push the unfounded notion that all males must be child predators. Lori you are just as much a part of the problem as the actual child predators themselves.

In fact, your article can be summed up as “TRUST NO ONE”. What kind of life is that? Really, do you want your children do go through life afraid of every single person that they meet?

Myne October 27, 2009, 8:57 AM

Yet another scare tactic headline and article! I’m officially getting rid of a predator in MY life: This Web site! It. Is. PATHETIC!!

momof1 October 27, 2009, 9:00 AM

I agree with the other comments made. None of this is new news. The article should have been a warning to single mother’s. I think they are preyed on the most. Predators prey on single mothers make them feel like they have there dream guy but they are molesting there children at the same time.

Anonymous October 27, 2009, 9:01 AM

it’s really just using common sense. you know how sometimes we tell our kid “say hi to so-and-so”? if so-and-so is an adult- be it an parent of another child or an aquaintence what you’ve just done is broken a boundary that you have already established ” don’t talk to strangers.” you know how sometimes your lil one just does’nt respond and we kinda push the issue? don’t. because you are confusing the child. unless this is someone that you and your child have an established relationship w/ be cautious. I never make my lil one say hi to an adult they don’t know, just because I know them. The child isn’t necessarily being rude and an adult should understand. The times we live in call for us to be a lil paranoid and err on the side of safety.

Joe October 27, 2009, 12:58 PM

Given that most abuse comes at the hands of family and people who are already close friends, this story does little beyond creating an atmosphere of fear. Sometimes people that come in to demonstrate volcanoes just want to give something of their time and talent to the schools. Readers should be counseled on warning signs to look for in the relationships between their kids and people they already know, not given additional hype about stranger danger.

Jill Amery October 27, 2009, 1:47 PM

This is an excellent article that should be shared widely. I find that many Moms also disclose tons of personal information on Twitter without knowing who is following them. Thank you for the article.

Sherron Teal October 27, 2009, 6:23 PM

As a police officer let me just say you may think this advice is ridiculous but believe me we have had this and worse happen regarding mothers and children, NOT ALL mothers are observant or intelligent!

Deana October 27, 2009, 8:50 PM

Wouldn’t you say, any advice that helps us remember that child predators are everywhere and can be anyone, is good advice. Okay, so us moms who have been around awhile do know better than to meet a stranger anywhere and know most of this already but what about the new moms or the, hard as it is to say, teenage moms, who might not be so educated on these things. They need to be informed just as we were the first time. It never hurts to be reminded of these things and you that are so smart and need not to be reminded or have it pushed down your throats or the ones who don’t want to scare your child into trusting no one are mostly the ones who act like this doesn’t exist or at least in your neighborhood or your home or your church. Those people or you above people are the ones who will be sitting in the psychologists office saying how dumb you were not to care about being “better” informed about any information that could help your child in the long run or better yet not to better inform your child. Inform not scare. Hey, by the way, the Headline was to get your attention and I guess it did cause you read it and it got a reaction out of you and well I guess you got “better informed” whether you liked it or not.

carol ~ October 28, 2009, 6:41 AM

I think this is good advice and some people just may not know this because many people fall for scams every day. If this advice saves even just one child from being abused then good! There are lots of people out there that do trust anyone and need to know you just can’t. Why the anger? Being aware is wise and parents have to be the ones to protect their children by knowing what to look for.

Internet Safety for Children October 29, 2009, 2:52 AM

internet safety for children and kids to prevent child identity theft by using theft indicators.Noa its very important these safety knowledge.

Anonymous November 17, 2009, 9:09 PM

That mom in the park or online (maybe even in this group) may just be trying to rape your child!!!
Important to read this.


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