The access to online sites that promote innocent Flirting is drawing attention by law enforcement because of the growing incidents of rapes on minor boys and girls. This is scary as a parent and elementary school teacher with over 20 yrs at the elementary level and even in higher education. Presenting at workshops and seminars
to teach youth and teens about their online content and the dangers of making unseen friendships. Social Media sites entice and encourage young girls and boys to flirt, but it is being found that older men are enticing young girls and even boys to meet face to face with dangerous results.
News reports from sources as Huffington Post, NY Times, and CNN have shown a dangerous trend with online contact with older men and minor young teen girls. Flirting is seen as innocent and playful; high school girls and boys flirt, even elementary school age kids experimenting with who they like. This ”greenness”
form of flirting is perceived as cute and harmless in most cases. Skating the edges of emotional connectivity to see if there is a potential for a relationship either as friends or a more serious relationship. The Internet has created a dangerous opportunity for sexual encounters for girls and even boys.
Parents need to be aware and involved in their children’s Internet activities. The seriousness of this can be seen from NY Times reports that show this is not an isolated incident of rapes, but a growing national concern. The challenge is that technology has allowed an open and unregulated connection that parents must be concerned. Unfortunately pedophiles, stalkers and child molesters visit SM sites and pretend to be youth and teens. They study the conversations, styles, words, slang and the best times to be online to make contact. Teens also will lie about their ages to gain access to adult sites. Even though there are dangers, teens discount the dangers for the chance to act as adults and engage in adult wordplay and sometimes behaviors.
Parents Check Phone Records
Cell phone apps are being used to interact online and parents are hesitant to check their child’s phones. Too many parents are either scared to monitor their child’s phone records for fear of the child’s reaction or work to be their child’s friend instead of parent. Just as Facebook is researching lowering the age for
allowing younger members access, there are thousands of minors already using Facebook because they lied about their ages. As an elementary school teacher I talk to students at my school and their conversations are adultin nature, discussing their online activities, parents have no clue. These results could eventually be dangerous as seen from information that has shown by sexual assaults against girls and boys. Parents need to make sure that even if they allow their minor children or teens to access sites that promote social contact that their children understand not to post their address, phone numbers, or other personal information that can be used online to find them. When kids are adamant about not allowing parents to look at their phones or online content then that could be an indication they are hiding something.
The recent case of a 12year old California girl that disappeared, the police had to check the girl’s cell phone records and found that she met someone through a mobile app. Fortunately the girl was later found at the home of a 24 year old man who said he had alleged sex with the underage girl.
Parental Ignorance is Dangerous
Parents should understand that information online never goes away, it is archived and stored somewhere and can be found later. This makes it easier and deadlier for stalkers and pedophiles to find and potentially threaten children and teens. Vint Cerf, considered one of the “Fathers of the Internet” stated, “The Internet is a reflection of our society and that mirror is going to be reflecting what we see.” Protecting children takes more than laws it takes parental participation.
An Austin, Texas women whose niece was abducted and used for prostitution shows the violence children maybe exposed too. Parents are missing the warning signs and children are exposed to content that has long term psychological and emotional damage. Kids are being kidnapped, raped, forced to work as prostitutes, both male and female. Interaction on Facebook and other social media sites has grown dangerous for youth and tees. The tragic events of the Austin, Texas girl are a prime example. Austin, Texas 12-year-old lured into sex trade through Facebook invite, if parents do not enforce or reinforce safety on the Internet for their minor children this will continue to happen.
Prevention and education are the keys, statements like, “I had no clue this was even going on, I thought it was a third world country situation.” Parents if you have not done so talk to your children, don’t wait until a tragic event.
Social Media Workshops
Social Media / Social Network workshops are available; parents must participate and be involved. Churches and other organizations that work with children need to educatetheir youth, tweens and teens of Social Media and Social Network dangers and safety.
William Jackson, M.Edu.
My Quest To Teach
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