Ashleigh Hall, a 17-year-old girl in the United Kingdom thought she was going to meet a teenage boy she had met online. The Telegraph, an online publication, reported on July 1, 2013, how the lie she had told her mother that she was going to a friend’s house to sleep, led to her death. Hours later, the girl, who had hoped to one day be a nurse in a nursery or a child minder, was killed and raped, allegedly by a man named Peter Chapman. The crime reportedly happened on the outskirts of Sedgefield, Co Durham.
What happened to the teenager in the United Kingdom is the nightmare countless parents in the United States, and around the world, have about their own children. If you are a parent, however, there are many things you can do to protect your children from Internet predators. The first teenager killed by an Internet predator was an American, 13-year-old Christina Long from Connecticut.
According to the National Institute for Missing and Exploited Children, 20% of minors who use chat rooms or instant messengers have been the victims of sexual solicitation. A total of five percent had even been the victims of more aggressive solicitation, such as receiving gifts, money, phone calls, mail or invitations to meet. Less than 25% of the victims of such solicitation tell their parents about it, even though 75% of such solicitations occur in the home.
There are numerous things parents can do to protect their children, including taking the simple step of moving the computer from a family room to a more visible room in the home. It is also easy to help your children pick names for chat rooms and messenger services that will be less risky and not call attention to themselves. They can also be taught which chat rooms they should avoid.