Guide to Internet Safety
Are Signs That Your Child Might Be At Risk On-line?
child spends large amounts of time on-line, especially at night.
children that fall victim to computer-sex offenders spend large
amounts of time on-line, particularly in chat rooms. They may go
on-line after dinner and on the weekends. They may be latchkey
kids whose parents have told them to stay at home after school.
They go on-line to chat with friends, make new friends, pass time,
and sometimes look for sexually explicit information. While much
of the knowledge and experience gained may be valuable, parents
should consider monitoring the amount of time spent on-line.
Children on-line are at the greatest risk during the evening
hours. While offenders are on-line around the clock, most work
during the day and spend their evenings on-line trying to locate
and lure children or seeking pornography.
You find pornography on your child's computer.
Pornography is often used in the sexual victimization of children.
Sex offenders often supply their potential victims with
pornography as a means of opening sexual discussions and for
seduction. Child pornography may be used to show the child victim
that sex between children and adults is "normal."
Parents should be conscious of the fact that a child may hide the
pornographic files on diskettes from them. This may be especially
true if the computer is used by other family members.
Your child receives phone calls from men you don't know or
is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don't
While talking to a child victim on-line is a thrill for a
computer-sex offender, it can be very cumbersome. Most want to
talk to the children on the telephone. They often engage in
"phone sex" with the children and often seek to set up
an actual meeting for real sex.
While a child may be hesitant to give out his/her home phone
number, the computer-sex offenders will give out theirs. With
Caller ID, they can readily find out the child's phone number.
Some computer-sex offenders have even obtained toll-free 800
numbers, so that their potential victims can call them without
their parents finding out. Others will tell the child to call
collect. Both of these methods result in the computer-sex offender
being able to find out the child's phone number.
Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly
changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room.
A child looking at pornographic images or having sexually explicit
conversations does not want you to see it on the screen.
Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
Computer-sex offenders will work very hard at driving a wedge
between a child and their family or at exploiting their
relationship. They will accentuate any minor problems at home that
the child might have. Children may also become withdrawn after
Your child is using an on-line account belonging to
Even if you don't subscribe to an on-line service or Internet
service, your child may meet an offender while on-line at a
friend's house or the library. Most computers come preloaded with
on-line and/or Internet software. Computer-sex offenders will
sometimes provide potential victims with a computer account for
communications with them.
Should You Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Communicating With A
Sexual Predator On-line?
talking openly with your child about your suspicions. Tell
them about the dangers of computer-sex offenders.
what is on your child's computer. If you don't know how, ask a
friend, coworker, relative, or other knowledgeable person.
Pornography or any kind of sexual communication can be a
the Caller ID service to determine who is calling your child.
Most telephone companies that offer Caller ID also offer a
service that allows you to block your number from appearing on
someone else's Caller ID. Telephone companies also offer an
additional service feature that rejects incoming calls that
you block. This rejection feature prevents computer-sex
offenders or anyone else from calling your home anonymously.
can be purchased that show telephone numbers that have been
dialed from your home phone. Additionally, the last number
called from your home phone can be retrieved provided that the
telephone is equipped with a redial feature. You will also
need a telephone pager to complete this retrieval.
is done using a numeric-display pager and another phone that
is on the same line as the first phone with the redial
feature. Using the two phones and the pager, a call is placed
from the second phone to the pager. When the paging terminal
beeps for you to enter a telephone number, you press the
redial button on the first (or suspect) phone. The last number
called from that phone will then be displayed on the pager.
your child's access to all types of live electronic
communications (i.e., chat rooms, instant messages, Internet
Relay Chat, etc.), and monitor your child's e-mail.
Computer-sex offenders almost always meet potential victims
via chat rooms. After meeting a child on-line, they will
continue to communicate electronically often via e-mail.
any of the following situations arise in your household, via the
Internet or on-line service, you should immediately contact your
local police station or state Crime Investigation Department:
child or anyone in the household has received child
child has been sexually solicited by someone who knows that
your child is under 18 years of age;
child has received sexually explicit images from someone that
knows your child is under the age of 18.
one of these scenarios occurs, keep the computer turned off in
order to preserve any evidence for future law enforcement use.
Unless directed to do so by the law enforcement agency, you should
not attempt to copy any of the images and/or text found on the
Can You Do To Minimize The Chances Of An On-line Exploiter
Victimizing Your Child?
and talk to your child about sexual victimization and
potential on-line danger.
time with your children on-line. Have them teach you about
their favorite on-line destinations.
the computer in a common room in the house, not in your
child's bedroom. It is much more difficult for a computer-sex
offender to communicate with a child when the computer screen
is visible to a parent or another member of the household.
parental controls provided by your service provider and/or
blocking software. While electronic chat can be a great place
for children to make new friends and discuss various topics of
interest, it is also prowled by computer-sex offenders. Use of
chat rooms, in particular, should be heavily monitored. While
parents should utilize these mechanisms, they should not
totally rely on them.
maintain access to your child's on-line account and randomly
check his/her e-mail. Be aware that your child could be
contacted through the U.S. Mail. Be up front with your child
about your access and reasons why.
your child the responsible use of the resources on-line. There
is much more to the on-line experience than chat rooms.
out what computer safeguards are utilized by your child's
school, the public library, and at the homes of your child's
friends. These are all places, outside your normal
supervision, where your child could encounter an on-line
even if your child was a willing participant in any form of
sexual exploitation, that he/she is not at fault and is the
victim. The offender always bears the complete responsibility
for his or her actions.
never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met
never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the
Internet or on-line service to people they do not
never give out identifying information such as their name,
home address, school name, or telephone number;
never download pictures from an unknown source, as there
is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images;
never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that
are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing; that
whatever they are told on-line may or may not be true.
child has received an e-mail advertising for a pornographic
website, what should I do?
advertising for an adult, pornographic website that is sent to an
e-mail address does not violate federal law or the current laws of
most states. In some states it may be a violation of law if the
sender knows the recipient is under the age of 18. Such
advertising can be reported to your service provider and, if
known, the service provider of the originator. It can also be
reported to your state and federal legislators, so they can be
made aware of the extent of the problem.
Is any service safer than the others?
Sex offenders have contacted children via most
of the major on-line services and the Internet. The most important
factors in keeping your child safe on-line are the utilization of
appropriate blocking software and/or parental controls, along with
open, honest discussions with your child, monitoring his/her
on-line activity, and following the tips in this pamphlet.
Should I just forbid my child from going on-line?
There are dangers in every part of our society.
By educating your children to these dangers and taking appropriate
steps to protect them, they can benefit from the wealth of
information now available on-line.
- An immense, global network that connects computers via
telephone lines and/or fiber networks to storehouses of
electronic information. With only a computer, a modem, a
telephone line and a service provider, people from all over
the world can communicate and share information with little
more than a few keystrokes.
Board Systems (BBSs) - Electronic networks of
computers that are connected by a central computer setup and
operated by a system administrator or operator and are
distinguishable from the Internet by their "dial-up"
accessibility. BBS users link their individual computers to
the central BBS computer by a modem which allows them to post
messages, read messages left by others, trade information, or
hold direct conversations. Access to a BBS can, and often is,
privileged and limited to those users who have access
privileges granted by the systems operator.
On-line Service (COS) - Examples of COSs are America
Online, Prodigy, CompuServe and Microsoft Network, which
provide access to their service for a fee. COSs generally
offer limited access to the Internet as part of their total
Service Provider (ISP) - Examples of ISPs are Erols,
Concentric and Netcom. These services offer direct, full
access to the Internet at a flat, monthly rate and often
provide electronic-mail service for their customers. ISPs
often provide space on their servers for their customers to
maintain World Wide Web (WWW) sites. Not all ISPs are
commercial enterprises. Educational, governmental and
nonprofit organizations also provide Internet access to their
Chat Rooms - Created, maintained, listed and
monitored by the
and other public domain systems such as Internet Relay Chat. A
number of customers can be in the public chat rooms at any
given time, which are monitored for illegal activity and even
appropriate language by systems operators (SYSOP). Some public
chat rooms are monitored more frequently than others,
depending on the
and the type of chat room. Violators can be reported to the
administrators of the system (at
On-line they are referred to as terms of service [TOS]) which
can revoke user privileges. The public chat rooms usually
cover a broad range of topics such as entertainment, sports,
game rooms, children only, etc.
Mail (E-Mail) - A function of BBSs, COSs and ISPs
which provides for the transmission of messages and files
between computers over a communications network similar to
mailing a letter via the postal service. E-mail is stored on a
server, where it will remain until the addressee retrieves it.
Anonymity can be maintained by the sender by predetermining
what the receiver will see as the "from" address.
Another way to conceal one's identity is to use an
"anonymous remailer," which is a service that allows
the user to send an e-mail message repackaged under the
remailer's own header, stripping off the originator's name
(Newsgroups) - Like a giant, cork bulletin board
where users post messages and information. Each posting is
like an open letter and is capable of having attachments, such
as graphic image files (GIFs). Anyone accessing the newsgroup
can read the postings, take copies of posted items, or post
responses. Each newsgroup can hold thousands of postings.
Currently, there are over 29,000 public newsgroups and that
number is growing daily. Newsgroups are both public and/or
private. There is no listing of private newsgroups. A user of
private newsgroups has to be invited into the newsgroup and be
provided with the newsgroup's address