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How To Recognize a Predator

There is a simple rule here: there is no easy way to tell if someone on the Internet could be a predator.

Simply by its design, the Internet unwittingly provides an environment of assumed anonymity for people to interact.

It is important to remember that people are often not who they say they are online. Although it is very difficult to know whether someone is an online predator, there's one simple rule for making sure that friends on the Internet are NOT predators: do not talk to people online unless you've met them in person first. Even then, chat and e-mails should be monitored, and every parent should make an effort to know their child's friends, and their parents. Just because you know your child is talking to someone from school doesn't mean that the conversation cannot be inappropriate.

How Online Predators Act:
Where and How Online Predators Find and Lure Their Victims 

Predators establish contact with kids through conversations in chat rooms, instant messaging, e-mail, or even cell phones and mobile text messaging. These days, many teens will turn to their friends and acquaintances online to deal with family/relationship problems. Often, troubled or stressed teens may find it easier to confide in a stranger or at least someone with whom they are not face to face. Online predators prey on this vulnerability, and exploit it to their advantage. Teens who are not receiving the attention that they need at home will soon find that it can be 'easily had' online, and predators know this.

Online predators will use flattery, in many different ways, to try to win over, or seduce their victims. Online predators can take on many roles/personalities. Some online predators have been known to pose as several people at once (easily accomplished through the use of instant messaging) to talk to one potential victim. The predator can send a message as any age, sex, or personality. Sometimes predators will even pose as the same age and sex as their intended victim, in order to learn more information and get 'closer' to the victim. The same predator may approach the same victim numerous times as numerous personalities in attempt to learn more information, get the person to talk to them, and earn their 'trust.'

Online predators will go to great lengths to convince their targets that they are sincere, caring, and who they think they are. They will use the same language, acronyms, conversation topics, and screen names as those they target. They are also willing to spend a great deal of time and effort to 'win over' their victim's affections and or trust. Predator's computers have been found to contain detailed logs of victim's likes, dislikes, online times, home schedules, appearance, and hobbies/interests, in addition to personal information.

It is important to remember that an 'online predator' does not necessarily mean someone who is seeking an in-person meeting with a victim. Thousands of predators conduct their activities exclusively online or by phone. It is important to be aware of and protect your child from all kinds of sexual predators.

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