None of us would leave a child unsupervised in the middle of a large city and yet, frankly, the Internet is just like that city. Not all its streets are risky – the Internet is a great place for kids to learn and entertain themselves – yet we must all recognize this particular “city” has a dark and dangerous side. Did you know 1 in 4 kids today have received unwanted exposures to sexual materials while online? Did you know 1 in 5 kids have received unwanted sexual solicitations, almost entirely from strangers, while online? Probably not, since less than 10% of such incidents are ever reported to parents or authorities.
Before the Internet came along, child molesters were basically a lonely and hunted breed. In fact, many authorities thought child pornography and the associated sexual exploitation of children were under control. Today, however, networks of Internet-based child molesters are proliferating worldwide. No longer must the abuser operate in the physical world, lurking around schoolyards, parks, and malls, always fearful of being “seen.” Instead, abusers now operate in the “cyberworld.” They log on from the safety of their own homes, enter your homes via the Internet, then lurk in various chat rooms, preying on our most vulnerable among us. Our children may be at risk each time they go online, and we want to do everything possible to keep our kids safe.