It pays to "snoop" on your child's Facebook page, as one mother from Colonie, NY learned. On her young daughter's Facebook page she spotted unfamiliar messages from a man who wanted to meet the girl. And they had sexual content.
Dennis Williams, 33, was dumb enough to use his real name, which is how the mother found out he was a registered sex offender. The mother contacted police.
Williams then began receiving messages from the girl that lured him into texting nude images of himself, believing the girl wanted to have sex. Thing is, though, that the sexual messages had come from investigators posing as the girl.
Williams was fooled and drove out to meet the girl-and instead got cuffed and placed into a police car.
What if this man had begun posting his messages between "snoop" times of the mother? Is it possible the girl would have met up with him?
In other words, parents need to somehow, some way, instill smarts into their children so that they quickly recognize a dangerous situation. It's worth pointing out, in research reports I've read, that girls with strong, trustful bonds with their parents and fathers in particular are less likely to fall into the luring mind games of a pedophile (who may be perceived as a father figure by the victim) than are girls with an emotionally neglectful father.
So here's what parents should do:
- Make your kids feel that they'll never be judged or chastised for reporting anything concerning online.
- Have you discussed with your child never to accept friend requests from strangers? Some kids will do this just to drive up the "friends" tally.
- Have you told your child that once something is posted, it's out there forever, even if it's taken down soon after?
- Tell your child to ask this question to themselves right before they make any post: "Is this something that I'd want to proudly show my own kids one day or show to Granny?"
- All devices should be password protected with parental access.
- Preach "Think before you click" till the cows come home. Explain that non-discriminate clicking could download a virus.
- Teach the dangers of meeting an online stranger in person.
- Put the privacy settings on high for all social media accounts.
- Consider parental monitoring software.