Daniel Perry was 17 years old. He committed suicide after being duped by an Internet predator
posing as a girl of his own age. There have been many other cases of truly odious individuals duping not simply teenagers but children, persuading them to upload sexually explicit photographs of themselves or even meeting face to face.
The UK organisation CEOP, one of the bodies that monitors this sort of thing, reported
: "Children as young as eight are being forced into performing slave-like sex acts live on webcam by sexual abusers". But is this really the case?
Let us rephrase that question, is there really an Internet paedophile problem, or is there a parent problem?
If you are a parent, would you allow your 10 year old son to play in the street? Probably, but you would want to ensure he was with other boys, you would warn him to be wary of strangers, or even of people he and you knew, and you would probably want to keep your eye on him. You would keep a closer eye on your young daughter. So why would you allow your child to talk to strangers on-line?
Does a child of 8 need to have an e-mail account much less to chat on-line? Does your daughter or do you for that matter need to put so much personal information on Facebook?
There are all sorts of sensible precautions parents can take to protect their kids on-line from keeping them in the same room when surfing to blocking certain sites.
What Daniel Perry did was foolish in the extreme. There are some things no one should do without considerable deliberation. Many people sport tattoos in their youth, but a tattoo says something about you that 30, 20 or 10 years from now you may bitterly regret.
By the same token, any time you scan a photograph and e-mail it to someone else, it could end up on the Web or worse. If you met a girl in the street and five minutes later she asked you to drop your trousers and pose for a photograph, would you? So why would you do the same on-line?
Here are a couple of short videos that show how not to surf safely. The first one
is not specifically for girls. Nor is the second
, this is what happened to Daniel Perry.
CEOP has a website
dedicated to on-line safety. Although UK-based it is suitable for anyone anywhere. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea if this was the first site your kids checked out.