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Protecting children from cyberstalking

The introduction of the Internet for general commercial use opened the floodgates of opportunity for anyone who had an idea. Business opportunities grew exponentially, social networking sites opened the doors for people to create completely new lives outside the reality based world, and criminals seized the chance to prey on children from the comfort of their own home. Almost since the dawn of the Internet, parents have had to keep a watchful eye on their children to keep them from harm’s path.

There are several things that you can do to prevent your children from becoming victims of an online crime like harassment, stalking, or even sexual crimes. Most laws that are made to protect children from online crimes are geared toward sexually based offenses. The Department of Justice actually conducts sting operations to catch would be cyber-criminals who are soliciting minors over the Internet for the purposes of sex. It’s nice to know that agents of the government are working hard to remove such people from the population before they strike, but what can you do as a parent to prevent the one that slipped through the nets from attacking your child? As it turns out, a lot.

Easily the best thing to do would be to set ground rules that absolutely are not bendable for any reason whatsoever. If your kids are old enough to understand what a sex offender is, they are old enough to understand why they can’t go into certain chat rooms and message boards. Have a talk with your kids about what areas of the Internet are acceptable and which ones are not. At a younger age, kids may not understand why you won’t let them use the Internet, but they will understand eventually if you are patient and understanding in your explanation.

Another safeguard that you can put in place for your children is to monitor their emails. This is definitely a concern for teenagers who wish for privacy. As teens become adults, they often make privacy demands, which are on the surface very reasonable. Unfortunately for you as a parent, you have to get into certain aspects of their lives to make sure they aren’t doing anything dumb- like setting up meetings with strangers. Some software programs will allow you to access your kids’ emails, while some email programs (especially the Internet based ones) off POP3 access, so you can check their emails from another account in a remote location. You can also set Google Alerts for your children’s names, screen names, etc. to help you monitor their Internet activity.

Whatever countermeasures you take to help your child avoid becoming a victim of a cyberstalker, you are doing them a favor, because every little bit helps when it comes to protecting your children from the bad things in this world.

Have a great day!


Overview of Cyberharrassment

Cyberharassment, cyberbullying, and cyberstalking have all become problems. Each falls under the broad category of cyberharassment, but there are a subtle differences. This article will help you to define the differences between these three Internet crimes. Once you understand these definitions, you’ll be better equipped to take action against a harasser, bully, or stalker.

Cyberharassment is harassment over the Internet. This crime can take many forms, ranging from persistent instant messages and emails to outright Internet attacks or defamations. This type of crime is often driven by the perpetrators desire to teach the victim a lesson or embarrass him or her. The perpetrator may post threatening or harmful messages on forums, send threatening emails, or put up Internet pages with false information about the victim. They may sign the victim up for pornography sites, use their email information to post incriminating or embarrassing information, and other such behavior.

Cyberstalking is more targeted than general cyberharassment. Cyberstalkers often send a constant stream of instant messages, emails, and more. They follow their victim around the Internet, posting hateful or defaming comments about them. They may doctor photographs of the victim, post websites with information about the victim, or more. Victims of cyberstalking often feel that it’s not safe to even log on to the Internet, and may be victims of real life stalking, as well. In the worst cases, perpetrators have even posted the names and addresses of victims on the Internet, making them targets for real life attacks from people they only know in the cyber world.

Cyberbullying is often practiced by teenagers. Perpetrators threaten and degrade their victims, either through private message mediums such as email and text messages, or through more public mediums such as message boards, chat rooms, and microblogging platforms like Twitter and Plurk. Social networks like MySpace and YouTube are often used, as well. Teenagers who are victims of cyberbullying can find it hard to rest, do schoolwork, or sleep – never knowing when the next bullying attack might occur.

It’s important to note that cyberharassment may not remain online. Perpetrators may come after victims in real life, or real life stalkers may take up a position behind the computer. The anonymity of the Internet causes all sorts of problems, and makes dealing with a stalker or bully on your own extremely dangerous. If you feel that you are the victim of one of these methods of harassment, consult the authorities today about how to file a report. Most jurisdictions have some sort of legislation regarding Internet harassment or Internet crime, and they will be able to show you how to get help.

Have a great day!