You hear about it on the news, in the papers and in magazines. There are hundreds of crimes that happen every day because of children using the Internet. Predators take advantage of children because they are often trusting and easy to fool. Therefore they become vulnerable and are easy victims for criminals, kidnappers, child molesters and even killers.
· The following are some basic rules for your child to follow in order to promote safety on the Internet:
These rules are very important for children not just to know of, but also to memorize. And keep in mind that it is not just the kids. We could all become victims of violent crimes that begin online.
a) Let children know to always tell a grown-up when they get an uncomfortable feeling while online:
To promote child safety on the Internet, a child should know to be extremely cautious and always tell his or her parent(s) or guardian(s) what makes them uneasy. And at school, of course, children should inform their teachers too.
b) Teach your children that it is extremely dangerous to give personal information to anyone online—absolutely never. Please stress this rule most of all:
Children should not give information such as his or her address, phone number, name, school, photo of him or herself, or his or her favorite hangouts. Even if the person seems nice and will provide all of the same information about him or herself. Your child must know that there will be no “switching of information” between online “friends”
Explain to the child or children that although it may really seem unfair, this is a very important rule. Unfortunately, this rule does take away from children making real connections with honest and trustworthy friends. It is sad but true, what’s more—is it is scary.
It could become dangerous for you child to simply even go to the mall if a predator knows that he or she likes to frequent “The Gap” or knows someone who works at the jewelry and accessories boutique, etc.
c) No contact:
Children must know to prevent any harm against them by NEVER, EVER meeting with someone they met first online. Even if the place he or she chooses to meet with this mysterious person is in out in the open—it can still be a very dangerous move.
I have read about many cases where an adult removes (or in more accurate terms—kidnaps) a screaming child from a store, park, shopping mall etc. One rule I have learned regarding such a case is to tell the children to scream out: “you are not my mommy!” or something similar. This will actually have more of an impact on other people and perhaps even catch their attention in enough time to stop the criminal.
If there is a rare case—after carefully monitoring the communications between them, perhaps a meeting could be possible. However, an adult should accompany the child. And perhaps speak with the stranger’s parents on the phone before hand—BUT STILL BE THERE! Pessimistic as it may be, bring a cell phone along and be ready to call 911.
d) Ask an adult:
A child should always ask before doing anything especially significant. Downloading, installing software, opening odd emails etc. is dangerous because these things may compromise the privacy of personal information.
Children need to know to always, always, always ask an adult before going online. Even if this means that parents have to restrict or block Internet access while they are not at home.
The same thing should be done in school. For example: the computers may not be accessible when the children want to use them without adult supervision. Thank goodness most schools have someone to observe computer labs shared by many different students for both schoolwork and homework.
e) Most importantly, the child should be aware of the seriousness of these restrictions:
If a child does not take these rules seriously he or she may already be in danger. No matter what other rules your students or children ignore—these rules cannot be among them. Breaking these rules could be fatal!
For child safety on the Internet we must teach and reinforce all of these rules, repetition never hurts. Teachers, do not assume they will learn these lessons at home; parent(s) or guardian(s): never assume these rules will be taught in school (although they should be without question). The basic guidelines for child safety on the Internet that I have just laid out are literally tools for preventing heinous crimes. Recognize that these potential dangers are everywhere on the web.
As technology advances more and more, the rules laid out above become even more important.
Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for websites on gardening, parenting, fashion, and home decor. Her background includes teaching and gardening. For more of her articles about online safety please visit Internet Safety.
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