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The Darkside of the Web and the Fight to Protect the Innocent

Updated: Apr 15

Photo by Susan Wilkinson on Unsplash


When we think of jolly children, we like to think of scenes of them roaming vast meadows or engaged in innocent play in the park, protected by guardians in their care-free lives. In this day in age, the meadows and parks have pretty much transformed into digital playgrounds — commonly known as the internet. The enormity of spaces, filled with endless rooms, can easily appear as wonders to these young eyes peeking and browsing. But the wonderment of these seemingly limitless places occupying the web are often layered with malevolence, lurking on the dark side of this digital universe.


Scouring the internet, seeking out vulnerable children to exploit their innocence often with intentions so malicious, it’s enough to send shockwaves of shivers down your spine. From the amateur masquerader to the more sophisticated artist of deception, they employ fake usernames, fake social media accounts with friendly avatars, and are crafty with technologies like VPN to cover their tracks. They’ve even turned stalking into an art form. Though a variety of terms are used, these individuals are typically known as child predators.


The 2011 movie, Trust, released by Millennium Entertainment does a great job showing the actions of a child predator.





PEDOPHILES AND CHILDREN SAFETY





In 2023, according to pedophile statistics, “in 32% of cases, the goal is to meet and have sexual contact with children. Engaging in sexual conversation/roleplay with children is the goal in 8% of those cases, while 2% of online child predators” have financial objectives. (www.screenandreveal.com)


“It’s estimated that, at any given time, there are 500,000 internet predators actively pursuing children through multiple online profiles.” And there are “as many as five million predators on the internet.” (www.screenandreveal.com)


An October 2021 report from the US Sentencing Commission, highlighted a 422% increase in online sexual exploitation and abuse of children over the last fifteen years. (https://enough.org)


This is a worldwide problem. For example, in 2022, nearly half a million Filipino children in the Philippines were victims of sex trafficking and was sexually exploited in online livestreams. These acts also correlate to the widespread use of digital technologies that exacerbates the risk of sexual exploitation of children often by individuals known and trusted by them. Echoes of this horrendous exploitation can be seen in the 2023 release of the film: Sound of Freedom by Angel Studios:





The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline received over 32 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation material from around the globe in 2022. Tech companies and social media platforms have come under scrutiny for their roles in not doing enough to combat the pressing issue of safeguarding children’s online well-being, by way of allowing sexual exploitation against children to proliferate the digital web space. It’s the responsibility of both tech companies and governments to address this global crisis, with a significant amount of reported child sexual abuse material being hosted within the European Union.



THE FIGHT





As explained in previous paragraphs, there are some combat measures in place to help with executing safeguards and controls to protect children and bring justice for the victims. But this fight is ongoing.


For parents, guardians, or well-wishers, the awareness for the safety of our children is paramount. As heart-wrenching it is to know that our young ones, in their quest for knowledge, friendship, or simple entertainment, could potentially become a vector as a vulnerable snare for online predators.


There is hope. Maintaining peace of mind in our family homes in this digital era is not just a dream, it’s achievable. It’s all about education, engagement, awareness, and the right tools. Here are some golden nuggets for your consideration:


Open Conversations: Establish trust. Let your children know they can approach you if something online makes them feel uncomfortable.


Understand & Monitor: Familiarize yourself with apps, games, and websites your children frequent. Periodically check their online activities without invading their privacy (teens).


Privacy Settings: Ensure that the highest privacy settings are enabled on all platforms. You can find great step-by-step tips here: Parental internet guidelines. This simple approach can act as the first line of defense.


Educate: Teach children about the importance of not sharing personal details online, including their name, school, address, or phone number.


Friendship Wisdom: Make them understand that not everyone online is who they claim to be. “Friends” online aren’t always real friends.


Keep in mind that these are the foundations of a comprehensive strategy. So much more is explained and can be utilized from my e-book titled “Online Safety For The Everyday User (In 10 easy steps)” which will be a magnificent addition to your knowledgebase for protecting your beloved ones.



IN CONCLUSION





As our young ones turn to the internet for “speed of light” answers and information, the potential of such a vast digital library, housing a universe of knowledge, connections, and incalculable opportunities, we must arm ourselves with the knowledge, tools, and keen awareness on the layers of protection for our young and innocent minds. Every child deserves a childhood free of pernicious intrusion. My e-book can assist and let’s ensure the physical, mental, and emotional protections our children need to play, learn, and grow, surrounded not by predators, but by the protective embrace of an informed and vigilant community.





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1 Comment


Awesome read! As a parent of 2 young children, the things that they are exposed to without supervision, AND under the guise of "kid-friendly" is horrendous! I appreciate the awareness and tips on this matter. It's no longer a topic of what ifs, it is a real problem that needs more control and harsher penalties. BTW, Sound of Freedom was excellent.

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