The Risk Of Online Child Abuse – A Downside Of COVID-19

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In an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19, schools across the world have been closed. Because of this, we have seen expected outcomes: students dwindling behind in their lessons and parents who are unable to work efficiently because of their bored and screaming children.

However, there is a terrifying concern related to this. When children are staying home, they go online, and online child hunters will take advantage of this situation. A recent report from the Europol stated that there had been an upsurge in the digital activities of those who are looking to sexually abuse children through the web. These predators post on web forums where children and teens are usually visible, where they anticipate the young to be more exposed and helpless due to social seclusion, less and less guidance, and more and more time on their phones and computers.

Last March, the police released a warning about the threat of online sexual abuse to parents across the United States. A lot of these parents are actually oblivious to the risks of sexual abuse on the web. The New York Times also currently reported several cases of parents who were thankful that their sons or daughters are into Fortnite and Mine Craft rather than the more vicious types of games such as Grand Theft Auto. However, some parents found out that their kids were exchanging brutal and sexual chats with their playmates. Stories like these are getting more common these days, owing to the shelter-in-place measures and the school closures.

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Online Predators

Predators join video games and chat rooms, and they often pretend to be minors, initiating harmless conversations. Eventually, these conversations intensify when these adults posing as minors begin pressuring kids to send images or videos of them showing off their skin, even to the point of bribing them with money. Later, they will use these images to blackmail their victims and forcing them to send more while keeping the abuse confidential from their parents. They might even threaten these kids to send the images to their parents if they plan to expose the abuse.

Mental health professionals often are too late when they see these cases. They have witnessed too many kids and teens in the emergency department who have been abused and are suffering from mental health problems or are suicidal. Some of them acquire long-term symptoms of PTSD, while others have chronic disabilities and difficulties with intimacy and trust.

Because of embarrassment from what they have experienced with their predators, children frequently keep their sexual abuse secret until the situations get out of hand. Most of us live in societies where sex is seen as shameful or negative. Kids are afraid or ashamed to talk about it with their parents. If the assailant has acquired sexual videos and images of a child or teenager, the victim would most probably be terrified that her parents are going to see these materials. That fear can cripple these victims and prevents them from reporting the assailant. Besides, children don’t realize that they are victims until it is too late. And when they do, they are still afraid that others will think of them in a different way because of what happened to them, which is why they stay quiet about it.

Perhaps the most important thing that parents can do is for them to talk regularly and openly with their kids about sexual abuse.

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COVID-19 And Protecting Your Children

The truth about being home because of the pandemic is that adults – parents and guardians, are stressed and preoccupied. They are striving to maintain balance in their mental well-being and their family’s needs, especially their children’s. Fortunately, there are basic ways that they can do to protect their children, and initiating a conversation with them is one of the ways that can make a tremendous positive impact. Even candid talks with their kids, and teens can go a long way.

Talk to your children about behaviors that bad strangers may manifest if they plan to abuse them. Explain the importance of openness and keeping your relationship with them honest. During these challenging times, child predators are everywhere, online and offline. You must prevent sexual abuse before it happens.

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