Online child abuse is in a way the legacy of today’s fast lifestyle that allows very little time for parents to spend with their children.
Today’s latchkey kids are left on their own in the house, while their parents are engaged with their professional or social activities. They are instructed not to leave their homes.
They have nothing to do and are bored. Naturally, they power on the computer and get on the internet, enter one of the millions of chat rooms available via service providers like Yahoo or MSN, or through some other technology like IRC (Internet Relay Chat), and start looking for sympathetic people who would listen to their problems and give them company.
Many unscrupulous and perverted people out there in the wilderness of the internet wait for exactly this kind of opportunity. As soon as they perceive the child to be as such, and vulnerable by the fact that he or she is left unsupervised in front of the computer for hours together, they catch the scent of prey.
They try to establish a rapport with the child and gain his or her trust and friendship. They will then slowly start introducing a sexual theme into their conversation, testing the waters to see how the child reacts.
At a later stage, they start sending mildly pornographic material to the child, in order to introduce him/her to this world.
This serves the purpose of convincing the child that it is not unusual or unheard of for children to have sex with grown-ups.
If the offender then feels it is safe to proceed, they will move in for the kill, and place the physical and mental health of your child in grave danger.
How do you fight online child abuse? Of course any form of sex with a child, or any material depicting such sex is completely illegal, but if you find such material on your child’s computer, whom are you going to report?
It is nearly impossible to gain information about the sender unless there is active cooperation from the child. But she has already been estranged from you that was the reason she began spending time online in the first place.
So the first and foremost thing you need to do is alter your lifestyle in a way that will allow your child to transform from a latchkey kid to a normal healthy one who enjoys the company, guidance and protection of his or her family.
This may in rare cases hurt your career and your social life, but is that too high a price to pay for the continued safety of your child?
Also, in case you suspect something is up and your child refuses to cooperate, you should use some kind of software system that will record everything that goes on with the computer in your absence.
Use a key-press logger or something similar to implement this. And if you find out anything that should not be there, do not scold or intimidate the child.
That will only serve to alienate her further and reduce your chances of gaining information. Try to develop an understanding attitude, and approach her in a friendly manner.
If you gain any information regarding some inappropriate attention that she is receiving, report it immediately to the police.