10/20/06 — Yes, take a look: Parents can help stop sex crimes before they happen

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Yes, take a look: Parents can help stop sex crimes before they happen

Another day and another potential child sex crime stopped because of an investigation by a local law enforcement agency.

And, what makes it so scary, is that this is not just one — but one of many.

There is a lot of talk these days about how potential child sex criminals are targeting their victims. One of the culprits has been identified as Internet chat room. It is there that these criminals can meet children unfettered by the watchful eye of their parents. They chat up the child, make arrangements to meet, and sometimes, actually commit a sex crime.

And that is if the child in question does not end up missing or as a murder victim.

A story circulated this week about parents and their role when it comes to snooping on their children and what they are doing on the Internet.

The question was raised: How much snooping should parents do?

And as that question was asked, thousands, if not millions of parents from the old school — in other words, those who are in their 70s and 80s now — probably laughed.

In their day, parents did not hesitate to worry about their children’s “rights.” They did what was right to take care of them and to protect them from those who would take advantage of or hurt them.

So, to them, snooping would not be a question. It would be a requirement.

If we want to really put an end to the need for police officers posing as teenagers on the Internet to catch potential sexual predators, we need to get serious about tracking where are children are going when they fire up their computers. We need to take a hard look at their “My Space” profiles, and dig into their chats and contacts with all their cyberfriends, young and old.

By catching red flags and watching for signs that children are getting themselves into a potentially dangerous situation, we can perhaps stop a tragedy before it happens.

We can worry about the emotional scarring from our snooping when our children have made it to age 18 without going through the trauma of a sexual assault.

And when we are finished, perhaps we might even think about listening a little more to those parents who might have had the right idea after all.

Published in Editorials on October 20, 2006 11:17 AM