What Does a Predator Look Like? Television tells us it’s the guy hiding in the shadows, ready to snatch up a child by themselves on the street. Circulating stories tell us that it’s the guy in the car that wants to give a child candy, or is asking for help to find a lost puppy. He is generally imagined as the man in the trench coat with a hat and a broad smile as malicious as it is big. A parent would see him and know him instantly. A child would think he’s just a stranger.
That’s the image of a predator we paint in our heads. That’s the kind of person we tell our children to avoid. Ironically enough, that’s the image that they avoid just as much as you do. They know the stereotype as well and try to avoid it. There are other ways of doing it that are far easier and don’t require the risk of face-to-face confrontation. Many use the internet as their medium.
Many predators come in the form of a teenage friend met online. This teenager professes to be the same age as your child and asks them personal questions about very private issues.
When people tell you to beware of the people your children are talking to on the internet, heed that warning. Many come in the form of a teenage friend met online.
This teenager professes to be the same age as your child and asks them personal questions about very private issues. This teenager tries to start a relationship without ever having met your child. That doesn’t mean that they’re not going to try to meet them though.
In fact invitations to meet, send person photographs, and give private information are all bad signs. Should your son or daughter run into these kinds of relationships, they should recognize these as red flags. Even if they haven’t asked for extremely personal interactions, that doesn’t mean that they won’t. They could guide your children down a much more dangerous path once they’ve gained the trust of your child.
Encourage your children to only communicate with friends they know on the internet. Warn them of the dangers of “meeting people online” before adulthood.
Many stories come from people that hold a position of influence over your child (including teachers, religious leaders, and even sometimes parents). Although you want your child to trust these people, your children should know that no one has the right to take advantage of them in those ways. Teach them what those things include and what they should do if anything were to happen to them. These “known” predators can also reach your children on the internet. Warn them of those possibilities as well.
The more you learn about the child internet predators’ tactics, the better able you will be to teach your children what to watch out for too. You profile them by their behavior when you can’t see their face. There are many books for parents that can teach you how to further identify them. Familius publishes books for parents to help them in just such a crises. Always seek more information on the topic as technology changes their tactics every day.
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline
- ICE Child Predator Force: Wikimedia Commons