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On the last track, we discussed concepts related to the unique world of internet pedophilia and educating the victimized family with these concepts. These concepts included: accessibility; anonymity; and lack of consequences.
On this track, we will examine steps that parents can take to ensure the safety of their children in the future. These steps include: relocating the computer; educating the child; and becoming computer savvy.
Have you, like I, found that many parents of sexually abused children wish to completely ban them from the internet for the rest of their lives? Obviously, in our fast-paced world, this is not always the perfect solution. In fact, this may isolate the child and make it more difficult for him or her to assimilate back into his or her own society. They will become too afraid to trust anyone and this will result in a more emotionally damaged child than the parents had expected. To counteract this, I suggest to these parents to allow their child access to the internet, but with obvious restrictions. What is your opinion?
Step #1 - Relocating the Computer
Susan, age 13, had been sexually abused by a 26 year old after meeting him through a message board. This encounter had been able to come to fruition because the computer the family shared was in the basement. Susan would simply sneak downstairs at night to have hours-long conversations with her unknown flirtation. The parents, Greg and Caroline, moved the computer upstairs to the living room, which was occupied by themselves and Susan’s four protective older brothers.
Also, when the parents were not at home, they detached the cable connecting the computer to the internet and took it with them. Susan resisted at first. Caroline stated, "She threw such fits, I thought she would bring down the house. After a couple months, though, she would still grumble, but she accepted the rules, especially since our sons also actively took part." As you can see, the entire family worked as a unit to monitor Susan’s online activity. Think of your Susan. Would relocating the computer prevent another incident of sexual abuse from an online predator?
Step #2 - Educating the Child Client
Torii, age 11, was sexually abused when she unwittingly gave one of her online "friends" her address. Torii had stated, "He said he wanted to send me real letters." The perpetrator, a 35 year old man living in the area, broke into the house and raped Torii. To avoid this kind of incident from happening, I asked that her parents, Jill and Tom, to educate Torii and their other two younger children about how to handle people that approach them online. Below is a list of several key ideas that the two parents emphasized to their children:
Think of your Jill and Tom. Would educating their younger children make them feel more secure about internet usage?
Step #3 - Becoming Computer Savvy
More importantly, they should know more than their children so as to head off any dissident behavior. Mark and Kim had no computer knowledge whatsoever. Their 14-year-old son Brandon, however, was a computer whiz kid. He played numerous games online and won most of them. However, one of Brandon’s "game friends" wanted to arrange a meeting. When they did meet, the game friend was really a 32 year old man who led Brandon to the back of the mall, where he raped him. Even though the event traumatized Brandon, he still would not give up his favorite games altogether.
To monitor his activity and to understand the kinds of situations he could get himself into, Mark and Kim attended night classes at a local community college designed to educate parents about computer usage. They also bought several tutorials and began to use the internet themselves. Instead of being completely in the dark about their son’s habits, Mark and Kim could now monitor all his conversations with his game friends and quickly detect any possible dangerous characters. They then address their son immediately.
Think of your Mark and Kim. Could educating themselves about the internet help them to protect their son or daughter?
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