Every parent’s worst Web nightmare, online predators are most commonly adults who use various techniques to establish a close relationship with young Web users. Predators typically pose as young people and take their time befriending minors, gathering personal information and other clues in the virtual world so they can lure, blackmail, abuse or kidnap their targets in the real world.

Young “netizens” become susceptible to predators when they chat online with strangers and make photos and personal details publicly accessible. Predators use clues about their vulnerabilities and whereabouts to get emotionally and physically close.

Numerous organizations provide tips for keeping kids aware of and away from suspicious online strangers. Guidelines include staying private online and using parental control software. Just as important, parents should discuss the tactics and dangers posed by online predators openly and honestly with kids and teens.

Online predator statistics:

  • There is estimated to be over 5,000,000 predators that surf the internet
  • These predators are online around the clock looking for targets
  • Sexual predators use forums, chat rooms, and instant messaging to locate and communicate with children.
  • There is a fifty percent chance that if your child is in a chat room designated for under aged children, the stranger he or she is talking to is a sexual predator logged in under a false identity.
  • Sexual predators especially enjoy the use of private messaging, private chat rooms, and the webcam to make advances towards their victims.
  • Surveys show that one in five of our kids will receive sexual advances while online but that less than 25 per cent of them will inform a parent or adult.
  • Approximately 5 percent of our kids were aggressively approached by a sexual predator. This means they asked to meet the child offline, called them on the phone, or sent them money or gifts in the mail.
  • 89 percent of all sexual advances towards our children take place in internet chat rooms and through instant messaging.
  • 75 percent of our kids are willing to share personal information with a stranger on the internet, exactly what the sexual predator is looking for.
  • 77 percent of the targets of online predators were 14 or older. 22 percent were between the ages of 10 and 13.
  • 30 percent of those that are victimized by sexual predators are boys.
  • Sexual predators are usually between the ages of 18 and 55. They are predominately males. Many have no prior criminal record.
  • 64 percent of the teens surveyed admitted they did things online that they would not want their parents to know about.
  • Approximately 19 percent of our teens say they have considered meeting someone offline that they have only known online.
  • Approximately 9 percent of our teens state that they have actually met offline a stranger they previously only knew and met online.

The internet predator has three favorite tools they love to use to target their victims:

  • Online chat rooms that offer private messages or private rooms that they can isolate your child and become aggressive without being observed by others.
  • Internet messaging, again, because they can get your child one-on-one and try and take advantage of them.
  • The webcam is one of the favorite tools of the predator to find out what your child looks like, to try and gain personal information about them, and to manipulate them into doing things on camera to compromise their safety.