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Ask Parry!

Ask Parry!

Questions and answers

Ask Parry! Ask Parry! is a service where Parry Aftab, noted online safety and privacy expert, and Executive Director of WiredSafety.org can answer your questions about online safety, privacy and security, and help you with problems you encounter online. Anything from help finding a safe chat room for your teens, to knowing what to do if the item you bought at auction doesn't arrive as promised.

Dear Parry

I have heard that most child victims of Internet sexual predators are shy, loners. They aren’t generally active in school sports and may not have many friends in real life. They tend to be more naïve than most. If my child is a good student, popular and into sports, with lots of friends, does this mean we don’t have to worry?

Signed

a worried parent

Dear Worried Parent:

On May 17th, when a little girl in the United States was killed by someone she met online, with whom she engaged in sex offline, we learned that the profile we always used was flawed. Little Christina Long had just turned thirteen, and was an honors student, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, beautiful and popular. Hers was the first confirmed death of a child by an Internet sexual predator in the U.S. She was apparently reaching out to meet adult men online, and would meet them offline for the purposes of engaging in sexual relations.

This case has changed everything we thought we knew. Since then, we have learned that many preteens and teens don’t fit the “loner” mold. Instead, we are learning that they are often seeking thrills and taking risks.

In January, we will be launching a new campaign to educate teens about the real risks, in their own language, delivered by their teen peers.

Remember, at the bottom line, all children are potential victims. Only good communication and an appreciation of the risks will keep our children safe. And that takes both parent and child. Keep the lines of communication open. It’s all about parenting, not technology.

Good luck!
Parry

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