As a parent, you have to be concerned with every person who has contact with your child. From friends at school to their parents, as well as teachers and strangers met on the street, each individual has the ability to profoundly affect your child. Paying attention to your child’s interactions becomes even more important with the realization we live in a society full of predators.
The dangers that lurk around your children
It is fairly easy to keep tabs on your children’s communications when they are young, and when they interact with people who live and work in your own community. As long as you keep your eyes and ears open and pay attention, you will generally know who they are talking to and what they are talking about. If at any time you become uneasy about someone your child is talking to, trust your gut instinct and find out why. If necessary, stop your child’s contact with that person.
The existence of the Internet complicates matters. Online video games and chat rooms draw our children into the world wide web, sometimes entangling them in dangerously formed liaisons. Many of the people your children meet online use screen names and live out of state, making it difficult to identify them.
Teenagers are especially vulnerable, since they tend to be far more social online than younger kids. They frequent websites designed for social interaction, and much of their computer time is spent privately, without the supervision of an adult. Most often, parents are completely unaware of their teenager’s online activities, In fact, many of today’s teenage runaways are girls who are lured away from their homes to meet with someone they have met on the Internet – usually an older male looking for an illegal tryst.
Keeping your children safe from the perils of the internet
Luckily there are measures you can take to protect your children. If you have young ones who love to play any of the myriad of online video games – especially the ones that allow interaction between players – do some research on the sites, and choose ones that have 24 hour monitoring. Every day, new game sites are emerging that have full-time monitors, and they will ban players who ask any personal information from other players. It is not a foolproof system, but it is far safer for kids than the unregulated sites.
Parental controls are available on most computers, allowing you to block your child’s access to certain types of websites. There are also several software programs that will allow you to monitor your child’s Internet activities, including being able to see every website visited. It may feel like you are spying on your child or betraying their right to privacy, but it is far better to pry than to have your child fall victim to an online predator. If you have ever watched Dateline, you know these predators are out there in abundance.
Find out who your children are talking to when they are online. Some websites may not allow the exchange of actual names, but then some might. If you can get a name and a location from those your child is chatting with, a people search can reveal important information about them.
Research the people who surround your children
Whenever your child has ongoing interaction with someone, especially a nanny, day care provider, or teacher, it is important to know as much as you can about that person. After all, they will be responsible for the care of your child, and they will be spending a great deal of unsupervised time with your child.
An easy way to keep your children safe is to conduct a background check of the person in question. Just by using a name and date of birth, you can discover significant information regarding the person’s past history. Criminal arrests, judgments, and restraining orders are just a few of the important things a background check will reveal. You will be able to find out quickly if your child’s caregiver has ever had any kind of inappropriate contact with children, or has ever been abusive towards them.
Much of this information is available through public records, or you can use an online investigation service such as Net Detective, where all of the records you want to search are consolidated into one database. These investigative services are typically available for a low fee, and they are significantly more thorough than research you would conduct yourself in public records. Completing a background check on your child’s caregiver or online friends is quick and easy, giving you peace of mind and your child safety.