Internet: Protecting Children and Teens

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Surveys have shown that the vast majority of teens and even younger children have unsupervised access to ‘surf’ the net. Horror stories abound about the exploitation of these eager, innocent adventurers.

According to a recent survey reported in eSchool News, more than 80% of school-age children receive unsolicited, email on a daily basis! Add to this the exposure to suggestive or pornographic chat-rooms and blogs, and they are constantly bombarded with electronic sexually explicit material and solicitations.

Close to 60% of teens have received an instant message or email from a stranger and 50% report emailing or instant messaging with someone they had not met. Almost half did not tell their parents prior to face-to-face meetings and reported that the person they met did not look as expected!

The FBI reports that between 1996 and 2003 this child-focused indecency has grow by 2,050%

Children who were uncomfortable with chat-rooms, blogs and emails, often do not tell their parents. The survey also found that nearly half of those surveyed disclose personally identifiable information, and do not check with their parents first.

San Mateo Police Department works in partnership with the San Mateo-Foster City School District (Middle and Elementary Schools) and the San Mateo Unified High School District to ensure that regular prevention information and intervention support is being provided to students in our schools on an ongoing basis.

Four suggestions to parents:

  1. Talk with your children regarding the dangers of chat-rooms, blogs and emails and in particular responding to strangers.
  2. Explain the dangers of sharing personal information online.
  3. Know all the ways your children are getting online; it may be more than just home and school.
  4. Establish clear rules and review internet use together.

Web sites focused on alerts and information about protecting children who use the internet:

http://www.isafe.org
http://www.fbi.gov
http://netsmartz.org/
http://www.safekids.com/

This information was generated based on a great reource page provided by Sunnyvale DPS

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