A
Mother's
Love
 

August
Keeping Kids Safe


There's something so awesome about seeing one's kids grow up to be happy, successful adults.

Just thinking about it fills me with joy. Now I understand what my mom used to tell me.

It was scary raising kids twenty-some years ago. And it's maybe even more scary now. There were predators then, and predators now. But it's so much easier for them to reach the kids now. It's heartbreaking to see a story about a stranger luring a kid through a social networking site. Privacy settings aren't necessarily private - plenty of people know how to get around those.

Some parents have no idea what's going on when their kids are using the computer. Kids are constantly coming up with new ways to hide things, sharing secret codes between one another (like announcing that mom just entered the room so hide what you're doing), sending pictures they think nobody but the recipient will see, and I don't even know what else.

But who is really at the other end? Maybe a friend or classmate; but maybe not. Is it a 13 year old, or is it a 45 year old pretending to be a kid?

I remember my parents telling me about "kidnappers" as we called them back in the olden days when I grew up (the dinosaur days, when color tv was first born and a computer was a giant contraption that filled a whole room, with all sorts of flashing lights and spinning reels).

When my sons were very young, we weren't internet people yet so I pretty much taught them the same things my parents taught me about those kidnappers - don't trust a stranger, don't accept food or get in their car or help them find a lost puppy - that sort of thing.

But now, I don't think I would know what to tell kids. Even parents who assume they are on top of things, may not be at all.

Sometimes parents are unaware that they are putting their children at risk. Pictures of little Jimmy or Suzie are adorable. Of course we love to show off our kids and grandkids. And most of the time it's probably fine.

But it's not like taking a picture out of our wallet and showing the grocery store clerk.

When pictures are online all sorts of strangers can view them (even if set to private).

But where it REALLY gets risky is when a child's full name is displayed.

It's often not that difficult to find someone's location when you have a person's name and maybe a few names from friends' lists to cross-reference, where friends and relatives may give more information on their own locations.

Predators can be intelligent, slick, calculated, and patient. Why take the chance?

Kids deserve to be kept safe and have the chance to grow up happy, healthy and successful in whatever they choose to do.

©2011, Mary Lou St. Lucas

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Mary Lou St. Lucas is a former stay-at-home mom who has participated in custody and divorce-related support groups. She often speaks out through impassioned letters to local newspapers regarding issues affecting quality of life for children and families. She has experienced divorce, including the heartbreaking decision to give up daily contact with her two sons for what she believed was their best interest at that time, as well as the societal stigma attached to being a non-custodial mother. She emphasizes the importance of kids having BOTH parents in their lives on a regular basis, even if the parents cannot or will not be married anymore. She hopes other parents will see that there may be alternatives to the standard custody arrangements, depending on the individual situation. She writes from her perspective of today instead of revisiting and dwelling on the painful emotions of her past. She strives to live a full life in spite of a recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia, and believes a sense of humor is mandatory. mlstuff.blogspot.com/2007/08/male-bashing-t-shirts.html or E-Mail.



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