Internet Crime & Safety
How to Report Trouble
Contact your local Police Department. If you live in West Fargo, call 701-433-5500.
Also, some other national advocacy groups are helpful, such as Cyber Tip Line, run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Call Cyber Tip Line at 800-843-5678 or visit their website at National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Advice for Parents
Common sense and vigilance on the part of parents will go a long way toward ensuring that your child does not fall prey to an abuser on the Internet.
First, parents need to know which children are most likely to be at risk. Adolescents in general are more vulnerable than younger children because, in their typical quest for identity and independence, they are less apt to accept parental oversight. In addition, children with few friends or relatively little involvement in sports or other extracurricular activities are more likely to be vulnerable.
Beyond these, there are some specific guidelines for parents that may be helpful in reducing the risks:
- Come to a clear agreement with your child about computer use. This should include a clearly stated limit on the hours of use, a well-understood restriction on access to chat lines (the most common venues for offenders), and a strict rule against revealing personal or family information (addresses, phone numbers, etc.) or especially any photographs of the child. Check your local school's Web pages to make certain your child's photo is not published there without your permission; as such photos have been abused by offenders in the past.
- Do not rely on computer software (like the commonly used Norton Parental Control or Net Nanny) designed to filter out offensive material. These systems are not adequate to keep up with the proliferation of new sites and can often be disabled by a computer-savvy child.
- Make it clear to your child that reporting unwanted or suspicious solicitations will not lead to further restrictions on computer use.
- Be aware that restricting your child's email correspondents to a prescribed list of friends and schoolmates is no guarantee against abuse. There is no sure way of knowing, at any given time, who may be sitting behind the keyboard at the other end.
- Be aware of, and do your best to monitor, the restrictions that apply at locations other than your home where your child may have computer access: school, the library, a friends home.
- Take note of the warning signs that an offender may be manipulating your child. These include secretive use of the computer, any evidence that computer histories are being deleted, unexplained telephone charges, hang-up calls, unexpected mail, and any signs that your home may be under surveillance by an offender.
- Finally, if you are not computer-savvy, you may want to take an introductory course so you'll know enough to monitor your child's Internet use.
What to Do if Child is Harassed
- Inform your local police or District Attorney's Office of the offense
- Contact your Internet provider
- Contact child protection organizations such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (www.ncmec.org), and Pedowatch (www.pedowatch.org).
Three Rules for Kids to Keep it Safe
- Never reveal your name, address, or Social Security number or any other personal information online
- Never forget that people you met online are strangers
- Never hesitate you ask your parents for help in an uncomfortable situation
Nine Steps to Internet Safety & Protecting Our Children
- In order to protect our children parents must learn how to use the computer
- Don't use the computer as a babysitter
- Set and discuss rules for using the household computer
- Inform children of the dangers of the Internet and explain that these rules are for their protection
- Parents should show interest in the activities that their participating in online
- Check the browser history of your computer
- Check downloaded files on your computer
- Teens are targets
- Report any offenses to your local police department