Teens Online, Predators Are Too

A new survey finds most parents have no idea that half of teens aged 13 to 18 frequently communicate online with strangers who could turn out to be sexual predators.

Two out of five teen abductions are now related to Internet activity.

Anna Fondo, a mother of two, says, "We try and do what we can to safeguard that by keeping an eye on what my son does when he's on the computer and making sure we know who he's talking with and who he's communication with."

A survey by the Polly Klass Foundation shows 30 percent of teens say they've talked about meeting someone they've only met through the Internet, and 42 percent say they've posted personal contact information.

LT Jimmy Williams with the Leon County Sheriff's Office says, "Pedophiles or child molesters will take that personal information and track these kids down. A lot of times kids will innocently tell that person what school they go to, where they hang out, what mall they go to, what store or teen area that they hang out."

For children ages eight to 12, experts recommend parents keep the family computer in a public area of the home and establish guidelines, which include never sharing personal information online. Reinforce the dangers of sharing that information and prohibit meeting strangers in person.

Jonathan Fondo, a nine-year-old, says, "I can't talk on the board. It says you need permission from a parent or guardian, so you can't view this page."

Also, law enforcement advises all parents to install software to block inappropriate materials and certain chat rooms.

Jonathan adds, "I think it's a really good thing that I can't talk to strangers because if I can't, there's a much less chance that something will happen to me or someone in my family."

The report points out that 13 to 18-year-olds take more risks and are more independent online, therefore, parents should add a little wake-up call to it such as sharing stories of real examples of teens that have been tricked or hurt because of unsafe online practices.


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