Tuesday, December 18, 2007

WARNING: The New Sexual Predator

WARNING: The New Sexual Predator
© (2007) Vicki Polin, MA, NCC, LCPC, ATR-BC 
The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - December 18, 2007

Robert H. Farley
I recently was at a seminar conducted by Robert Hugh Farley, who is a highly decorated Police Detective, Deputy United States Marshal and currently as an international child sexual exploitation consultant for INTERPOL.

The Awareness Center strongly suggest that every Jewish community sponsors a program in which Mr. Farley presents. He is definitely one of the top investigators in the world when it comes to dealing with sex crimes against children.  Below are some of my notes from the seminar I attended.

When a child (or an adult) has a page on Facebook or MySpace.com or any of the other social networking pages they are opening their entire lives up to the world.

All one needs to do is to I Googled any child's name you know to see if they have a social networking web page (such places as MySpace.com, Facebook, etc.)

When I returned home from the seminar I immediately "Googled" my nieces and nephews names (who are minors).  The first thing that was listed was their profiles on places like MySpace.com and  Facebook.  When I went to those pages I  clicked on "view Friends."  All of my nieces and nephews friends names came up along with their pictures.  I clicked on their friends pages and could view their friends names and profiles too.

Almost all of the minors who have social networking pages have their own pictures up.  Some of the photographs were young girls trying to "look cute or sexy" or guys trying to look "cool."

The new sexual predator will go to social networking web pages to find their next targets.  They may go through your child's profile all of your child's friends profiles and so on -- until they find minors that meet the criteria they are looking for.  Both boys and girls are targets as are young adults.

One suggestion is that minors have pictures of something other then themselves (i.e., a book, a tree, art, etc.).  Also it's important to make sure there is no personal information about the child's life up on the social networking pages.  Every child I saw had the name of their middle school, Jr. High and high schools listed along with their graduating year up on their profiles.  Most sexual predators can do math and figure out exactly how old a child is on the sites.

Most of these pages require that the child be over 18 to join.  What the norm is that the child signs in as be over 18 and then changes their age once they join, or leave the age up as being over 18, yet still list their high school graduating year.

Another huge problem is that the newest trend is not for children to be lured in off of the net but by using cell phones.  With today's technology, most of the newest cell phones have text messaging and WiFi connections.  This new technology is not something that parents can monitor.

Kids are also using their cell phones to video tape themselves in their own homes, at sleep overs, at parties, etc. These photographs and videos are then uploaded onto their web pages and end up being shared with the world.  They are basically allowing a sexual predator into their homes, schools and their personal lives.

Sexual predators are then making links to kids social networking pages, and sharing the links with their friends.  This is more common when a child/teen uploads photograph sand or video's the predator may find arousing.

It is not illegal for a sexual predator to make links to these pages.  It is also not illegal for a sexual predator to have nude pictures of minors, which would be considered to be "child erotica."  The only time images of a minor becomes illegal or would be considered child pornography, is if there is some sort of a sexual act involved involving a minor.

It's important to realize you can't prevent your child from going on line or using a cell phone to get on line, because a minor will find a way to get on line.  Often from friends homes or cell phone, the library.  Sexual predators have access to minors anywhere they can get a WiFi connection.

The best bet you have in keeping minors safe is by educating children on the dangers in language they can understand.  It's vitally imprint to have a good relationship with your children to keep them safe.  Your children need to know they can tell you anything without feeling ashamed or embarrassed  If you can tell your children to look both ways before crossing the street, it's vitally important that you warn your children that there are sexual predators out there.  A sexual predator is usually not "a stranger."  Minors never consider someone they meet on line as being a stranger, which is part of the problem.  Our youth often feel safe chatting with anyone on line.  They feel comfortable and confident because they are doing this from their own homes.

A sexual predator on line knows how to make a child feel important.  They make your child feel as if they care about them and are their friend.

Another problem is that often the child feels as if the sexual predator is their "boyfriend" or "girlfriend."  They "fall in love" with the offender.  They often do not realize they are being abused.  As in many other sex crimes they target kids who are lonely, going through a personal crisis in their lives or that of their families.

There is a growing number of offenders out there.  They are calling them the "new sex offender," because of they way they lure in youth.  Many of these offenders are upper class, white males who are going on line at work.  The most dangerous hours for our youth is right after school they get home from school, until these new sexual predators go home from work.  Basically the most dangerous hours are from 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM.  Often parents are not home yet to monitor what their children are doing.

For more information on this topic contact:

Robert Hugh Farley M.S.
Consultant in Crimes Against Children
10 South LaSalle Street, Suite 1420
Chicago, Illinois USA 60603
Phone: 847-236-9134
E-Mail RHFConsultant@aol.com

1 comment:

Aliza said...

This is a very helpful list of notes. One thing to be aware of, though - the age restriction for Facebook is 13, not 18. And Mark Zuckerberg is lobbying for the age to be lowered to an even younger age. That scares me so much!