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What’s the Issue? Kids love connecting with others online. Most young people talk online with their friends and family rather than strangers. As a parent, you might be concerned that a stranger with bad intent could contact your child. “Online predatory behavior,” as it is commonly known, is when adults contact kids or teens over the internet in an attempt to “groom” them for inappropriate sexual relationships. Many experts, however, have found that the more realistic threat for teens online is actually “online sexual solicitation.” This means encouraging someone to talk about sex, give personal sexual information, or send sexual photos or video. (It does not always mean asking for sex.) For instance, teens might receive inappropriate requests or messages from strangers or acquaintances. However, contrary to popular belief:
• Teens (ages 13 to 17) are more at risk for online solicitations than “tweens” or children
• The majority of online solicitations come from teens themselves, or from young adults (ages 18 to 25)
• Adults that solicit teens are usually up-front about their true age and intentions (Subrahmanyam and Smahel, 2011).
Why Does It Matter? When teens are led astray about what to look out for online, they can find themselves in unhealthy situations without realizing it. The allure of these kinds of relationships is not surprising, particularly for teens who are already vulnerable. Solicitors can provide teens with a boost of self-esteem with compliments and attention. And once teens engage in these relationships, they might agree to do things they would not normally do because of the imbalance in power between them and the solicitor. It is often not until much later that they realize that they were being manipulated.
Read the tips linked here: Family Tips | Safety Talk
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