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Computer Online Lure

Over 25 million American kids are now online. While the Internet abounds with wonderful learning and communication opportunities, it also provides criminals with unlimited possibilities. Pedophiles visit Internet chat rooms and websites in search of lonely, rebellious, trusting or adventurous youngsters.

Given the anonymous nature of chat rooms and e-mail, predators can pretend to be any age or gender. This makes is easier to obtain information like a child's real name, where they live/work, what school they attend, even personal details about their family. Usually, the ultimate objective is to arrange a face-to-face meeting.

The Internet Predator may expose youngsters to messages or images with adult content, but he becomes a true threat if  he succeeds in learning a child's name, address or other personal information or he manages to arrange a private, in-person meeting with the youngster. Kids who have agreed to such meetings have been robbed, beaten, raped - and worse.

Prevention
Remind your children that things are not always what they seem on the "Net." Discuss current news stories concerning Internet crime with your child to reinforce that precautions must be taken while online.

Familiarize yourself with the Internet and e-mail. Supervise youngsters online, much as you censor what they watch on television, video or DVD. If your child's friends have Internet/e-mail access at home, encourage their parents to supervise online time as well.

Situate computers in high visibility areas of your home - the kitchen or family room - and view the screen at regular intervals. Be alert to the use of Secretive Internet Acronyms.

Software exists to restrict children's access to inappropriate areas of the Internet, but don't underestimate your child's ability to bypass these controls! Kids of all ages pride themselves on getting around them.

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