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How Family And Staff Can Work Together To Prevent Online Dangers To Children

A Georgia weather reporter was indicted on four counts of child sexual abuse after he solicited nude photos from three under-aged girls through an online service.

According to law enforcement, the former local television weather reporter used the Internet "to seduce, solicit, lure and entice" his first victim, getting her to send him nude photos of herself and perform a sex act for him. He also sent the girl a photo of his genitals.

He is accused of requesting nude photos from two other under-aged girls. Sandy Hodson "Former TV weatherman indicted on child sexual abuse charges," (Jan. 5, 2017).

Commentary and Checklist

Most sexual predators know a child’s Internet usage is unsupervised and have learned to use the Internet to look for targets. The same is also true for people who stalk, abduct or even kidnap children.

Family employers should provide training for the staff who care for their children on ways to prevent computer sex offenders from targeting their children.

Parents should enforce staff Internet safety rules for children including: not posting images of themselves or of others online; not providing personal information including addresses and phone numbers; and not downloading anything from a source they do not know.

Families should stress the point of keeping the computer camera covered up with a sticky note or something else at all times to prevent voyeurism by cybercriminals.

Consider keeping computers that your children use in a common room in the house, rather than in their bedrooms. Install parental controls and/or blocking software in addition to anti-virus and anti-malware software to help prevent hackers or sex offenders from accessing your child’s computer. Have children use smartphones in common areas, and do not allow them to take their smartphones into their bedrooms at night.  

Train caregivers on the signs that a computer sex offender could be targeting your child. Tell staff to notify you immediately if they notice any of these behaviors. If you or your staff finds evidence that your child is being targeted by a cybercriminal, notify law enforcement and keep the computer turned off to protect the evidence. 

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), some signs that a computer sex offender is targeting a child include:

  • The child spends a lot of time online, especially at night
  • The child frequently visits chat rooms
  • There is pornography on your child's computer
  • The child receives phone calls from someone you don't know, or makes calls to a number you don't recognize
  • The child receives letters or packages from someone you don't know
  • The child quickly turns the computer off or changes screens when an adult enters the room
  • The child becomes withdrawn from the family
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