The truth is scary. The truth is that there are sexual predators lurking on the Internet. In the newspaper, there are stories all the time about perverted, lawless men caught in Internet stings. These perverted, lawless men were pretending to be cute, shy, teenage boys. The girls that went to meet them were police pretending to be innocent teenage girls. Fortunately, the stories are about the men who get caught and they have good endings. That is, perverts behind bars. Unfortunately, there are more real girls that show up for those “dates” than policemen and those stories only make the news when the outcome is very bad.
If you think that it couldn’t happen to you, think again. Over 50% of teenage Internet users report being propositioned sexually. If you are using the Internet to make new friends, you are the target of these predators. Besides not using the Internet, there are things that you can do to avoid sexual predators.
One thing you can do is be wary of chat rooms. While chat rooms are entertaining, they are also a popular hangout for Internet bad guys. The bad guys love chat rooms where teenagers hang out, and they are very smart. If anyone ever suggests that you “go private” with your chat you should suspect that person. Private conversations are the first thing that a bad guy will try to get you involved with.
Never post or send sexually suggestive pictures. If you wouldn’t show the picture to your grandmother, do not post it on the Internet. You should actually be careful posting any pictures at all. Perverts are just thatâ€”perverted. They might see a perfectly innocent picture and begin to obsess about you. It doesn’t have to be anything sexy, maybe they just like the shape of your eyebrows, but once a predator notices you, you are in danger. Try not to do anything that will get you noticed.
Do not engage in any kind of sexual conversation online. You have no idea who you are talking to. Even if you think you have made a friend with a younger teenage girl and they start asking you for sexual advice, stop. Do not engage in any sexual conversations with anybody for any reason.
Be aware. You should know that there are predators out there. Become educated about how they work. The bad guys spend a lot of time “grooming” their victims before they ever suggest a meeting. A predator might pretend to be someone your age who flirts with you. A predator might also pretend to be someone slightly older who “really understands”. They might try to engage you in conversation by being rude or offensive and getting you to argue with them.
Because communication on the Internet offers no personal cues there is virtually no way to tell if the person you are chatting with is a good guy or a bad guy. Even if you get a picture of somebody, there is no way to know that the person in the picture is the person you are chatting with.
The most important rule for avoiding Internet sexual predators is to never ever go alone to meet a person from the Internet. It doesn’t matter what the circumstance is. If you go to meet a person from the Internet you are putting yourself in danger. If the person is genuine and wants to meet with you they won’t mind meeting you with your parents or a group of friends. In fact, it should be insulting if the person suggests that you meet alone. If they care enough about you to meet you, certainly they want you to be smart and to protect yourself.
Millions of people use the Internet everyday without troubles. There are predators out there but by following these tips and by educating yourself you will be safe and Internet savvy.