Meeting Someone Online
The most serious problem imaginable is a child who turns up missing or is molested as a result of an online contact. Most of these cases are not strangers bursting into homes and stealing young kids; they are almost all young people who have left home on their own volition, usually after "meeting" someone online ("luring" is the term for online behavior that leads to these meetings). The vast majority of them are over 15 and female. What we have here isn't a case of bad guys snatching children; it's mainly teenagers exercising poor judgment. Nevertheless, luring is illegal, and if your child meets someone online whom you perceive to be a threat to her physical safety, contact law enforcement.
Options (not necessarily reccomendations) for preventing your child from meeting someone online who might do harm:
- Parents should take an interest in a child's "e-pals" just as they do with friends that kids bring home.
- Talk with your child about the dangers of getting together with someone they "meet" online.
- Restrict or monitor your child's use of chat functions.
- Monitor your child's e-mail and use of Internet newsgroups.
- Install a filter that restricts your child from giving out his or her name, address, and phone number.