- Make sure your kids are taught to never admit strangers, under any circumstance, into the home whether or not you or another adult family member are home. They should be taught to never open the door to a stranger, even if they look like they are friendly and just may be selling something. Have them go to a door if there’s a knock/ring and ask anyone on the other side what they want or need. They should respond to any conversation with, “My dad is upstairs on a business call, but I’ll make sure he knows you’re out here.” They can then go out of ear range of the front door and call a trusted neighbor to come over and assess the situation if a parent isn’t actually in the home.
- Teach your children local emergency phone numbers, primarily 911, and make sure younger children memorize their name, address, and parent's phone number.
- Make sure your teenagers truly understand that they should never meet with anyone they do not know, especially someone they met on the Internet. Monitor their online activity if you suspect anything and even if you don’t! Many of parents have been shocked to learn that their straight A student is corresponding with what their child thought was a fellow teenager, but who turned out to be a 45-year-old pedophile. Teach younger members of your family not to open mail or packages.
- Go over how to answer the telephone with your young children and teach them not to give our information such as their address, whether or not an adult is home, their names, etc. Play-act this with them, as practice is the best teacher at a younger age.
- Teach your children that it’s okay to say no to strangers, especially adults. Go over the different scenarios that pedophiles use to prey on your kids. Ploys such as “I’m looking for my lost dog” or “Can you help me find my little boy/girl” are two such approaches a pedophile will use. Once again, play-act is the best teacher of this.
- Have an escape plan should your children need to exit the residence in case of emergency. As I’ve written before, have drills, both during the day and in the middle of the night, so they’ll know exactly what to do should a real emergency ever occur.
- Make sure your home Wi-fi network is secure. Having a whole house Wi-fi network allows kids to get on the internet from anywhere in the house making it harder to know what they are doing on their computer, mobile telephone or gaming system. Put a rule into affect that all computer use must be done in a common area of the home where you can see what they are doing. Not that you have to stand over their shoulder at all time, but a quick surprise peak can be very revealing. Also, go back and check their history of websites they’ve visited. This is very easy and can be found on any browser in use today.
- Teach your kids, once they are old enough, the importance of safety when using social networking sites. In my opinion, no kid under the age of 15 has any business being subscribed to ANY social network. I’m sure you’ll hear that all of their friends are on Snapchat or Instagram, but don’t cave to pressure. There will be plenty of time in the future for them to waste countless hours on the internet! When they do reach an appropriate age for social networking interaction, teach them not to use their full names, birthdays or addresses on their profiles. The less personal info the better and caution them about mentioning any vacation plans on their social media sites, posting any identifiable locations, vehicle information, etc. and not to “check in” using some of the popular features of many of the social media apps.
- Monitor. And I do mean, monitor, your kid’s online game activity such as the type that occurs on platforms such as Xbox Live. These gaming systems allow them to interact with friends from all over the country and, in fact, the world, but they can also expose them to online predators. Many pedophiles have been discovered to use these systems where they masquerade as young teenagers in attempt to gain the trust and confidence of actual children. Once they’ve gained their trust, it’s not long before they are convincing the child to meet in person somewhere.
- Install software that allows you, the parent, to block access to websites. Google has a free option where you can block keywords in searches and I strongly recommend implementing that on all of your computers. Search is the gateway to finding websites on the internet you’d rather them not find.
- Implement a family rule that says only a parent can download ANY thing from the internet. Many of the games, music and other software that is out there to tempt an unsuspecting child contains spyware and other types of malware that can infect your entire system and lead to identity fraud and worse.
Let me know if me, or any of the investigators here at EXCALIBUR Private Investigation, can ever be of assistance to you.
Colorado Springs, CO