Preventing Your Child From Being Victimized By An Online Predator

It is quite difficult to conjure up anything that is more horrifying and depraved than the idea of a grown adult manipulating and taking advantage of a child. That is putting it mildly. Parents have long had to concern themselves about their children’s safety when they’re going to school or playing in the park. But, in 2024, there is an even more popular way for child predators to seek out their prey. You likely won’t be surprised that it’s the internet.

With the widespread popularity of the worldwide web, predators (who we refer to as “tricky people” in our safety courses) have easy access to children of all ages. Whether through social media, chatrooms or online gaming, these disturbing individuals find ways to endear themselves to impressionable youngsters. Their sinister motivations most often involve sexual exploitation.

How rampant is the problem of online sexual predators?

“In 2019, 1,549 incidents of child luring on the Internet were reported by Canadian authorities,” reports MediaSmarts, Canada’s Centre for Digital Media Literacy, “Of these, 242 were deemed unfounded, 651 were cleared and 326 people were charged: 257 adults and 69 youth. Though the total number of cases has risen in the past five years, the number of people actually charged has remained fairly stable.”

Sickeningly, things picked up at the start of the pandemic. Because kids were spending more time at home, during lockdown, online sexual predators began taking advantage. In April 2020, Meagan Fitzpatrick of CBC News reported that there was a 40 percent uptick in child exploitation reports. She noted that children were going online in greater numbers. Their intent was to play games, connect with friends and check the latest posts on Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram.

How do tricky people groom children for potential meet ups?

As Fitzpatrick reports, predators generally impersonate youth around the ages of their victims. They draw children into sexually explicit conversations and convince some youth to share photos and videos of themselves. MediaSmarts reveals that predators tend to shower youth with attention, sympathy, affection and kindness. It’s all a ruse in order to convince victims that they are loved and understood. In most cases, predators select victims they are familiar with.

“A majority of predators are people that the victim already knows, who take advantage of the ability to communicate privately online, though the relationship may be with someone they did not know offline and may happen entirely online as well,” warns MediaSmarts.

“Some of these predators call themselves ‘cappers’ because they capture those images and share them with each other or use them for their own sexual purposes,” writes Fitzpatrick, “They might also attempt to extort the victim for more images or even money, according to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. The centre says cappers even have contests where they vote on the best ‘caps,’ and there is a ‘hall of fame’ on one forum.”

How does SOS 4 Kids help kids to avoid online predators?

Our My Safe Life is designed for children aged 7 to 10. In addition to informing about other safety measures, the personal safety program teaches kids about online safety and how to spot tricky people. To learn all about the My Safe Life program, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-844-373-1024 or email us at [email protected]. You may also fill out the form on our Contact page!