Is the Online World More Dangerous Than the Real World? – Myth vs. Fact is a new information sheet I recently created.   Among the online myths addressed in this, is the belief that online predators lure children by impersonating other children:

Myth: Child predators are moving to the Internet to exploit children by pretending they are children.
Fact:
In 95% of Internet-initiated sex crimes against minors, the children knew the perpetrators were adults. (Crimes Against Children Research Center, 2010)

 

While there are real dangers children may encounter online and real cases of child victimization through online contact, it’s important that parents keep the nature of the risks in perspective when they think about how to best provide for a safer online experience for their children. 

A 2010 summary of Trends in Arrests of Online Predators from the Crimes Against Children Research Center acknowledges a 21 percent increase in arrests for online victims from 2000 to 2006, but cautions:

                                                           

These findings do not suggest that the Internet is more dangerous than other environments that children and adolescents frequent. The findings here should emphatically NOT be interpreted to suggest that the Internet is a dangerous environment for children or youth or that the Internet is ridden with sex crimes or becoming more dangerous. The levels of arrests of online predators revealed in this study are quite small compared to total arrests for sex crimes as evidenced by national crime data. Moreover, the growing number of arrests of online predators is best interpreted as a product of the increasing range of the Internet and the increasing aggressiveness of law enforcement activity online.

 

Things parents can do to help protect children on the Internet include:

1.      Educate yourself and children about the risks of online contact with strangers.

2.      Using parental controls to monitor and limit where children go on the Internet.

3.      Help children preserve their privacy on the Internet by teaching them to limit the information they divulge.

For more tips, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/protect/familysafety/default.aspx.

 

--David Burt, CISSP, CIPP