Internet Safety Tips for Parents
Some Simple Steps

Place the family computer in a central room with the monitor facing out into the room. Most experts agree that young people should not have internet access in their rooms.

Develop a list of rules for internet use and place it beside the computer.
Here are some examples:

-Computer use is not confidential and we do not hide what we are doing on the computer.

-In our family, we get permission to access the internet.

-We visit websites that are appropriate for our age, and we do not visit websites or access information that are "off limits" for us.

-We don't send photos or give out personal information without permission, and we will tell our parents about any online messages we receive that make us uncomfortable.

-We share an email account without parents. We will not open or use any other email accounts.

-We do not enter chat rooms or social networking sites.

-We can go online between the hours of _____and_____.

-Time on the computer is limited to: _____hour(s) per day.

-Time on the internet is limited to: _____hour(s) per day.

-Instant messaging is only allowed with people that we already know and trust in real life. We will provide our parents with a current list of our "buddies."

-We do not respond to messages from people we do not know.

-These rules apply to our home computer and all other computers we use.

these rules in PDF format for easy printing

Avoid or Control Online Profiles.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace can be positive arenas for young people to express themselves and be creative when used safely. However, if not used wisely, they can provide easy access by predators to young people. It is important that profiles not be used on these sites, as they tell the predator all he needs to know in order to befriend your child. If your child does have an online profile, please control the information that is shared there, and who that information is shared with.

Remind your children that what is posted online is there forever.
There is no taking back what has been posted in a blog or on a social networking site. This can have far-reaching effects in the future, as future employers can access this information when deciding whether or not to give you a job. For the predator, online information is used to blackmail the child if they try to get out of the so-called "relationship." Often these perpetrators will demand that the child send more pictures (or more explicit ones) in order for him to keep from sending the ones he already has to everyone he knows and using them against the young person in other ways.

Young People and Explicit Photos

Photos that are posted are there forever and can be edited once they are online.
Any photo showing a minor involved in sexually explicit behavior is, legally, considered child pornography. Period. There's no getting around it. This is a serious crime regardless of the original intent of the photographer.

Last week's boyfriend may be this week's "ex." Otherwise "private" pictures may then be used against the ex-boyfriend or girlfriend for humiliating purposes. ANY photo or video that has been circulated is virtually impossible to retrieve!!

When buying a phone for your child, pay attention to the features and be sure you can have control over how the wireless device can be used.

Creating A Family Safety Plan

When creating your Safety Plan speak openly and calmly with your children, utilize teachable moments, and try to practice “what if” scenarios in an age appropriate manner. Try to remember the point of the Family Safety Plan is not to scare your children, but to have an honest discussion about their safety.

What is sexual child abuse?
Any act or attempted act of sexual contact, activity or exploitation of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, teacher, coach, counselor, guardian or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of a child, or by any household or family member regardless of consent.
FACT: In the majority of sexual abuse cases, the perpetrator is very close to the family.

What are the signs?
There is no one sign that indicates a child has been sexually abused. Each child may have a different reaction to abuse.
Some children might show many behavioral and emotional changes (such as, sexual talk and touching, fearfulness, nightmares, etc.), others might show little or no change. You know your child best. Talk to him or her and increase your vigilance if something seems wrong.

What should you tell your children?
It is important for children to know the proper names of their body parts, where no one is allowed to touch, what to do if someone touches them inappropriately, and that they have a right to be safe. A set of Family Safety Rules should also be discussed and decided upon. In addition, each of your children should have a set of rules depending on where they are, i.e. a friend’s house, at school, with a babysitter, etc. You should also let them know it is never ok for someone to ask your child to keep a secret from you or to help them with something without your permission. An adult should never need something from a child, they should ask an adult. Explain to your child they can talk to you about anything and they are not a “tattletale” for talking to you.

What should your child say to someone who is hurting them?
Children need to know it is ok to say no if someone tries to touch them, or treats them in a way that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused, even if it is a person they know and love. They should then try and get out of the situation as quickly as possible and tell someone. If the abuser is present the family should have a special word or signal they can use to let someone know without informing the abuser.

Who should your child tell?
Write a list of people, including names, whom your child can tell if something happens to them. Make sure your child knows there will always be someone to help them.

What should you do if your, or someone else’s child, discloses they have been abused?
Listen to the child. Try to remain calm and let the child tell you what happened. If you ask questions make sure they are open ended (who, what, where).
Call either 911 (police) or 704-736-8770 (Child Protective Services) and report the abuse.
Do not try and conduct an investigation yourself, leave that to the professionals.

Family Safety Rules PDF for printing