If you know what to look for it is actually rather easy to tell if you or your child have been targeted as a potential stalking victim. Obviously the signs to recognize online stalking for children are going to vary slightly than they will for adults but in many cases the signs are going to be the same. By knowing what to look for you can recognize online stalking and harassment for what it is, whether the targeted victim is you or your child.
Difficulty rating: Easy
The first thing that you want to look for when it comes to your children is if they become withdrawn from family and friends. Another thing besides being withdrawn is that they will quickly turn off the computer monitor or change the screen if an adult comes into the room. This is a good indicator that they are up to something that is not allowed or are trying to hide things from an adult. But being withdrawn is a sign because online predators will work hard to isolate their victims.
Another thing to watch for is your child or yourself receiving mail from people that you don’t know or that you have never given your address to. Many times online predators will send gifts, letters and photographs to their victims just so that they can entice their victims. If you start to receive these things and have never given out your address it is a good chance that an online stalker obtained your personal information through some research.
Something else that you need to watch for is long distance calls to numbers that you don’t recognize or any calls to numbers that you are not familiar with. If these begin showing up on your phone bill you should call the numbers to find out some kind of information. But don’t just look for outgoing calls on your phone bill you also need to pay attention to incoming phone calls because predators will have the children call them collect and then get your phone number off caller ID. You should also look for a series of strange and weird phone calls at odd hours of the day or night.
If you have a family computer and the family rule is no pornography (every family has different rules) and all of the sudden you begin to find pornography files hidden on the computer or traces of files that contained links to sexually explicit websites than you need to consider the fact that somebody might be trying to target you or your child. Keep in mind that children will try to hide the files on diskettes at times so you might want to find out how you can track where your kids have been on the computer if you have any suspicions.
Something else that you need to look for is if somebody is “following” you online. Most stalkers tend to follow their victims wherever they go, which in the physical world this is easy enough to determine, but not everybody knows how to figure this out online. One way to tell if the person is following you online is if they are visiting the same message boards that you are and they didn’t belong to the message board until after they meet you. Or they follow you around from chat room to chat room no matter how hard you try to avoid them.
Another thing to look out for is unwanted emails, and that can include forwards from the same person. It can be an especially dangerous sign that you are being stalked if you have contacted the person once to ask them not to send you any emails and they continue to do so without any regard to how you feel or what your wishes are.