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Internet pedophiles are the “big bad wolf” of the online world. Parents are afraid of them, and for good reason. But are they the biggest threat? How can you tell if your kid is in trouble or if your child is even a target?
That depends on your child and it depends on you.
Should you be worried? Mmm, I wouldn’t say worried. Cautious, yes - especially if you have a teenager.
Pedophiles online play damaging mind games with their victims long before they can ever touch the child physically. These psychological tricks have long term effects - physical and emotional - as you'll read here soon.
Pedophiles don't get life-threatening until they can figure out where your kid is… which isn’t hard to do. Once found, the bad guys can choose their next move – abduction, rape, or even murder.
But most pedophiles aren't interested in abduction or murder - just repeated rape.
Online pedophiles have specific things they are looking for, criteria if you will. Particularly, they want
teens who don’t get along with their parents, teens who have troubled lives,
depression, or addictions - that sort of stuff. The more baggage, more rebellious, or more curious the kid is, the better.
Why those kids? Simple really. Internet pedophiles want an easy target. Someone who needs attention or wants to be “grown-up”. Their weaknesses are more visible compared to other teens. If they know the kid's weaknesses, they can manipulate the child better. It’s not as easy to manipulate a mentally-sound and socially-healthy kid.
But there is an exception to every rule. In other words, the kids withOUT depression, withOUT troubled lives are not immune. They just aren’t the typical target.
The ones I worry about are the teens who visit “adult” chat rooms, who seek out pornography or sex online, the ones with little or no internet monitoring by their parents. These kids look for excitement, maybe even a little romance in the virtual world - and there is nothing to stop them.
And when you go looking for trouble, it will come to meet you.
In the case of internet pedophiles, that's a literal fact.
Is their big secret to pose as a teen? Pretend to be someone younger?
It’s a lot of work for 40-year-old pedophiles to successfully pose as 14-year olds. For most, it’s too much work. Internet pedophiles don’t want to trick kids. And they don’t have to.
Their big secret is TRUST. It’s a slow process, but here's how it works:
Internet pedophiles log on to chat rooms and social media places. They look for kids in their favorite age group (usually teens and preteens), and then befriend them. These kids know that they are talking to a 40-year-old man. There’s NO deception there.
After a week or two, the child feels that she and this man have a pretty good friendship. This is how he learns which kids are attention-starved or needy in some other way. He knows whose parents “don’t care”. He knows which kids are looking for adventure and which ones are just curious about “adult” things.
Bingo! New prospects.
He builds up his target – “you are so mature for your age” or “I just love talking with you” or “I understand. I wish I could give you a big hug.”
Then he starts to ask her personal questions… eventually sexual questions. If she jumps in, he knows he has a good target. As time goes on, “hugs” turn to more explicit things.
“I like you” turns to “I love you”.
The internet pedophile is open about his intentions. He doesn’t hide the fact that he too is looking for a little excitement.
The "in-love" tactic works well with girls. He tells her he loves her and wants to be intimate with her, and she buys into it. After all, here’s an adult who takes her seriously. He’s older, more mature. Certainly he wouldn’t play games with her...
…well actually, he would. He just hopes that parents are not on to his game.
If the “in-love” vibe doesn’t click, that’s ok. Pedophiles are willing to go a more intellectual route. He offers to “educate” her about “mature” topics, which usually means molestation in one way or another.
This is actually a common tactics used to attract teenage boys. He might send pornographic pictures, maybe even a graphic video of himself.
Why use pornography? It opens young minds to “new sexual possibilities”. Basically it prepares teens to be molested and think it is normal or cool to be sexual.
When the predator knows that the girl is infatuated enough or that the boy is curious enough, he sets up a time and way to meet. Predators like to wait until parents are out of the house. Then he can just come over and “love” her in the comforts of her own home.
How can they find out where the child is? There are several ways.
One common tactic used by the uncommon pedophile who poses as a teen is to find teens who post their personal information. Your child
doesn’t have to post her address or phone number - just mention the name
of her school or the park she's going to on Friday
night. Personal stuff like that. He does an online search and *ding!* he
knows where she is. From there, finding your child is just a process of
Now don’t panic!!! About 5% or less of online child victimization stems from kids posting their personal contact information. At that rate, identity theft is a bigger worry than internet pedophiles when it comes to personal info!
Besides, teens are getting wise as to how much personal info they post.
So what's the common way that common pedophiles get their victims online? They go after that troubled teen and try to coax the teen into doing something sexual. And it works more often than we want to admit.
If they can get your teen to trust them, then convince your teen to participate in a sexual activity, then your teen is more willing to meet and more willing to participate. And who's going to tell the parents?
Nobody. Who wants to tell on themselves?
The consequences are tragic.
When you read the research, you find that kids who are sexually abused have major issues to deal with later - physically, socially and emotionally.
Not to mention all the personal guilt and shame that inevitably follows. I was surprised to learn how many teens go looking for sex, get it, and then feel terrible.
Depression, alcohol, and memories are known to haunt them for years.
Internet pedophiles are very dangerous. But they can be avoided. Is there a 100% guarantee? Of course not. But you can deter most of them. Teach them internet safety tips for teens and do your best to really be there for them. Kids don't need you to be another friend. Friends let friends do stupid things. Teenagers need you to let them ask questions, help them learn about adult things the appropriate way, and help them succeed in life.
Help them trust YOU so they will be less likely to turn to the ever-informative pedophile online.
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