April has been designated by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Emphasizing the prevalence of child sexual abuse, we’re highlighting this national initiative in light of social networking activities and the ease with which kids and adults can be in contact. Cyberstalking and online predators are a growing problem today, made easier with different apps that allow oversharing, such as Creepy and Yobongo, or online groups and sites, such as “Smash or Pass” and CollegeACB.com. And no movie better incorporates online dangers with sexual abuse than Trust, released a few weeks ago.
Just last week, The Guardian reported that cyberstalking is now more common than physical, face-to-face stalking or physical harassment. Also in the study (exact figures to be released this week), teens reported that they were most likely to be harassed in social networking environments. These findings aren’t surprising, as it seems we are constantly hearing news stories about cyberstalking incidents, child pornography charges for distributing and/or receiving racy images of underage kids, or other cases of sexting and online predators.
With more and more apps and online groups that enable instances like these, Sexual Assault Awareness Month is coming at an important time. And it should make parents realize how important it is to know what their kids are doing online and have monitoring methods in place. Kids may have great online behaviors, know never to engage in cyberbullying, and understand that they can always talk to their parents about any confusing or disturbing content they come across online. But there are dangerous people out there that take advantage of the anonymity the online world offers and it’s up to parents to help keep their kids as safe as possible online.
How do you monitor your kids’ online activities? What are your biggest fears (cyberbullying, online predators, cyberstalking) whenever your kids spend time on social networking sites?