Agawam, Massachusetts – The Internet and the invention of the
personal computer are perhaps the most significant creations of the 20th
Century, offering unprecedented communication tools that link families and
friends around the world. It
provides users access to an incredible volume of information and is an
invaluable tool of the academic and business world.
The Internet can also be a seedy and dangerous place for people of
all ages, especially children and teens.
“Internet users enjoy anonymity and that is something that
predators crave,” says Chief Robert D. Campbell, of Agawam and President
of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.
“A child doesn’t always know with whom he or she is interacting
and that is why it can be so dangerous.
Unless it’s a school friend or a relative, they really can’t be
Considering that 25 percent of kinds online participate in real time
chat and 13 million use instant messaging (IM), the risks of such children
interacting, either knowingly or unknowingly, with a predator is alarming.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA),
89 percent of sexual solicitations were made in either chat rooms or instant
messages, and 1 in 5 youth (ages 10-17 years) has been sexually solicited
“It’s easy to think of pedophiles as loitering in playgrounds and
other places where children play,” says Chief Campbell, “but because of
the way the Internet works, children can easily be interacting on their home
computers with predators posing as children.”
The Police Chiefs of Massachusetts wish to offer these safety tips to
parents and children and urges parents to report any suspicious activities:
Tips for Children
Never give out personal information (such as name, age,
address, phone number, school, town, password, schedule, your picture) or
fill out questionnaires or any forms online.
This includes chat rooms, instant messages, email, surfing the Net
and event entering contests or registering for clubs online.
Never meet in person with anyone you have met online without
Mom and/or Dad’s presence
Do not enter a chat room without Mom and/or Dad’s presence
or supervision. Some “kids”
you meet in chat rooms may not really be kids; they may be adults with bad
intentions. Remember people may
not be who they say they are.
Be suspicious of anyone who tries to turn you against your
parents, teachers or friends.
Don’t give out your password to anyone except your parents
– not even to your friends.
Follow your family’s rules for online safety at home, at
school, at the library or at a friend or relative’s house.
Do not engage in an online conversation that makes you feel
uncomfortable. Log off and tell
your parents. If you get such a
message, DO NOT respond. Instead,
show it to your parents and let them handle it.
Never respond to or send an e-mail or instant message to a
stranger, or accept e-mails, enclosures, links, URLs or other things online
from people you don’t know. Talk
to your parents first so they can check it out.
Tips for Adults
Place your computer in an area of your home where you can
easily monitor your child’s Internet activity.
Teach your children not to give out personal information to
anyone they do not know in the physical world.
Teach them never to give out any personal information while
they are in a chat room with friends, because there may also be others in
the chat room that they do not know.
Supervise your child’s chat-room activity and only allow
your children in monitored chat rooms.
Block instant/.personal messages from people you and your
child don’t know. (Check to
see which IM services have this feature.)
Set time limits and monitor the amount of time your child
spends on the Internet, and at what times of day.
Excessive time online, especially at night, may indicate a problem.
Regularly ask your kids about their online friends and
Be present in room so you can monitor the screen and your
Do not permit your child to have an online profile, which
serves as a lightening rod for predators. With this restriction, he or she will not be listed in
directories and is less likely to be approached in chat rooms where
pedophiles often search for prey.
Be aware that when anyone enters a chat room, their email can
end up on a spammer’s list. This
means that participating in chat rooms can increase the likelihood that you
will begin receiving unsolicited pornographic e-mail.
Consider investing in protective software.
As your Internet service provider or local software retailer for
suggestions or visit an Internet search engine and conduct a keyword search
for “blocking and filtering software.”
following websites provide useful information to aid parents in educating
themselves and their children in safe Internet practices: