Commentary by Det. Robert Murray, assigned to the Hamilton County Metro Child Exploitation Task Force
What can a parent do to protect their child on the internet? This is one of the most common questions that I get asked as an investigator. The most important and beneficial thing that a parent can do to protect their child on the internet is to maintain a proactive role in their child’s online activity.
When a child is given unfettered access to the internet, they also are being given the ability to communicate with individuals around the world. To put this in perspective, if a parent lets their child go to a park unsupervised, they run the risk of that child communicating with anyone they might encounter there or while traveling there. When a parent allows a child to go on the internet unsupervised, they run the risk of that child communicating with potentially anyone else with internet access. A recent statistic from December 2017 numbered global internet users at 4.15 billion, or 54.4 percent of the population of the entire world.
In 2017, the Hamilton County Metro Child Exploitation Task Force investigated more than 80 cases of child exploitation. A significant number of these cases started with a child communicating online with someone that attempted to or succeeded in exploiting them.
By taking a proactive role in monitoring their child’s internet access and activities, a parent can greatly reduce the potential exposure to individuals that would use the internet to exploit a child. By establishing an honest and trusting rapport with their child that includes internet usage, that parent also significantly increases the chances of their child telling them if someone tries to exploit them.
If there is ever a suspicion of a child being exploited or someone attempting to exploit a child, please contact your local police department to report the behavior.
Join me April 30 at the No More Secrets Symposium to learn more about internet safety for our children in Hamilton County.
Registration is free and available at nomoresecretsfishers.eventbrite.com.