Links That Can Help Keep Kids Safe

While technology can be a trap for a child, it can also save the day for a savvy adult.

One in seven kids is solicited for sex online. It’s an alarming statistic. Especially because who doesn’t know a child who uses the Internet every single day?

And wait. It gets worse.

One in three kids receives unsolicited sexual content online and 34% of kids online indicate they communicate with people they don’t know, according to research by The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Pedophilia is the proper term for the medical diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder in adults and is typically characterized by a main or exclusive interest in prepubescent children. Pedophiles aren’t easy to spot because many times it’s the people you trust the most that you can’t trust at all.

There is no one picture of what a pedophile looks like, he’s your plumber, your neighbor, your friend. “And it’s not just men who are pedophiles,” explains Jannie Lisonbee, Founder of www.child-safety-for-parents.com. “There are women too.”

The advent of the Internet has taken the average pedophile and digitized their playground. Lisonbee, an advocate on child safety, lists several resources on her site to help parents keep up.

Some good places to start include:

NetSmartz.org – offers free safety tips and programs to teach online child safety to both parents and kids

MissingKids.com – the nation’s resource on the issues of missing and sexually exploited children

KidLogger.net – a free program that collects user activity on a computer so that if someone were to solicit your child you can backtrack and get more details (note: check your state for privacy regulations)

Jail.org – Offers a free feature where you may type in your address and get an email when a crime happens near you; you may want to resubmit your info with your child’s school address, soccer practice, or any areas that you may frequent alone at night, for instance

Getting to know your neighbors – at least by sight – might be a good idea, whether you have a child in the house or keep an eye out for your neighbor’s. CriminalCheck.com and FamilyWatchdog.us are two free Web sites that list criminal sex offenders nationally. Simply type in your address or zip code or if you have a specific person in mind type in their first and last name to view a record. You may choose view results in a list or color-coded map. It’s a good idea to crosscheck both databases and double-check the person’s photo and information against its counterpart. Available information includes the person’s name, physical description, home and last known work address, photo, crime description, weapons used, etc. If you have the money and want to do a quick criminal check, a site like Intelius.com will provide a full report in minutes, but it will cost approximately $50.

While technology can be a trap for a child, it can also save the day for a savvy adult. By enabling GPS-positioning on a child’s cell phone you can track whereabouts. A two-way Teen SOS button through Locateloveones.com; for example, can provide peace of mind for parents of children—young, tween, and teen alike; added features like geo-fencing also allow controlled freedom and alert mom and dad via text message when a minor has arrived or left a pre-determined area, say the mall, the movie theater, or school.

Cell phone apps nowadays are being built to help combat street harassment and classroom bullying. The Bully Block App; for example, was created by Sedgrid Lewis, who runs a behavior health organization in Atlanta, and helps kids with behavioral health issues and runaways. “We wanted to create something for the parent and give the kid the responsibility,” explains Lewis. “So, if someone texts you something inappropriate you can use the Bully File to save it, email it to your principal, or forward to a parent.” (99 cents, for Android at www.cyberbullyapp.com or on Amazon.com).

Gone are the days of victimization. In fact, salvation, seems to be one speed-dial away. There’s an app for that: First Responder – it lets you start an emergency services call at the touch of a button ($1.99 at iTunes).

Maria Coder is the author of InvestiDate: How to Investigate Your Date (March 2012). A former crime and general assignment reporter, she teaches workshops in New York City and plans to tour high school and college campuses nationwide to show students first-hand that researching your date can be almost as fun as the date itself (sometimes more). For more information, visit www.InvestiDateYourDate.com.

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Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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