Thursday, July 23, 2015

Signs your child may be the victim of online exploitation

Calgary Police Service

The Calgary Police Service recently released this guide to identifying possible signs and preventative measures related to the internet exploitation of children.

Signs your teen may be experiencing side-effects of online exploitation:
  • Sad or crying frequently
  • Displays of anger
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in activities, hobbies or sports
  • Not wanting to attend school
  • A sudden change in their activity level on their own social media platforms
Important ongoing discussions to have with your teen about online contact with others:
  • Explain that adults should not be attempting to become “friends” with or give sexual attention to teenagers. Let them know this type of boundary-breaking behaviour demonstrates the adult is using poor judgment, making it unsafe to interact with them.
  • Discuss that it is illegal to threaten someone online or offline. Explain that threats are often used in an attempt to control the situation and get youth to comply with demands of a sexual nature. If someone threatens her/him, s/he needs to tell a safe adult (whether it be you, a teacher, a counsellor, etc.).
  • Explain that there is no need or urgency to respond to any messages. Teach her/him not to respond to messages that make her/him feel uncomfortable.
  • Discuss how sharing personal issues or situations online with the wrong person could leave someone open to manipulation and mistreatment.
  • Use real life stories from the media to discuss situations that have happened to teens. Seize the opportunity to openly talk about these stories with your teen, as well as the risks, and discuss what could have been done differently. Your child is less likely to become defensive as the scenario is not about her/him personally. At the same time, it opens the door for your child to share a similar situation or concern with regard to her/him or one of her/his peers.
  • Teach your adolescent how to get out of unwanted conversations and/or relationships. Some direct ways of getting out of uncomfortable situations include refusing to do something by saying “I don’t want to” or “no thanks” or discontinuing contact by not responding to messages, and deleting or blocking the person as a contact. Indirect ways of ending a conversation include making excuses such as “I have to go out with my family.” or blaming parents “my mom checks my computer randomly and would ground me.”
  • Explain the importance of seeking your help without the fear of her/him getting into trouble and reinforce that it’s never too late to ask for help, even if they are embarrassed about what has happened.

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