Internet Safety: Risks
What risks are out there?
Today, with the widespread availability of computers, modems and telephone lines, a child's playground is the world, and a few keystrokes can quickly bring them in contact with a variety of unsavory and unwelcome guests. We need to be as concerned about this electronic neighborhood as we are about the physical one in which we raise our families.
As sexually explicit materials have surfaced on a number of widely available computer services, it has become increasingly evident that those who prey upon children also are loitering on the World Wide Web.
Masked by their on-line anonymity, it is nearly impossible for children or adults to distinguish these Web-predators from any other casual Web-surfer.
Teenagers are particularly at risk because they often use the Internet unsupervised and are more likely than younger children to participate in on-line discussions about companionship, relationships or sexual activity.
The New York State Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has found numerous instances of on-line criminal activity involving adults who use the Internet to victimize young people. These crimes are categorized by the Task Force as:
- Disseminating Indecent Materials to Minors;
- Sexual Performance by a Child;
- Endangering the Welfare of a Minor, and
- Sexual Abuse.
A 1998 investigation showed that the Internet is becoming the medium of choice for pedophiles. The 18-month probe uncovered 1,500 individuals who used the Internet to transmit child pornography. This investigation amassed a collection of over 200,000 shockingly graphic pornographic images of infants and young children engaged in sexual acts.
Those prosecuted, which included a college student, a janitor, school administrators and managers, displayed few outward signs of their private world.
To protect children from such on-line predators, parents must take an active role.
If you have cause for concern about your children's on-line activities . . . talk to them.