After a mother got a phone call from another student’s mother saying her child was sending inappropriate text messages, she was horrified at what she uncovered. The mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, examined her child’s phone and tablet and discovered photos that indicated her child had been sharing photos and videos online with a child predator.
The mother said she thought she was doing everything right by using software that allowed her to read her child’s email and text messages, but the predator was stalking her child using an app the mother couldn’t access.
“Parents who say, ‘My child has never sent an inappropriate picture through the phone or the internet,’ are in complete denial,” the mother says.
The child's mother and father share their story with The Doctors to help educate other parents about how to prevent their children from becoming victims.
Detective Carlos Monterroso, of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, says parents should know their children’s accounts, their email addresses and their passwords.
“You need to know who their friends are, both online as you would offline,” he says.
OB-GYN Dr. Jennifer Ashton recommends reinforcing an old piece of advice:
“We’ve taught our children since they could walk, ‘You never get into a car or speak to a stranger.’ They understand that,” Dr. Ashton says. “The second they get a phone in their hand, they need to know the same exact rules apply. You never communicate with someone that you don’t know personally.”
Common Methods of Predators
Sources: Internet Safety 101, NetSmartz, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Journal of Adolescent Health
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