RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In the wake of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle’s sentencing for sex crimes, the FBI is weighing in on signs that may indicate a child is at risk of becoming a victim of an online predator.
- Your child receives phone calls from people you don’t know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don’t recognize.
Some offenders have even obtained toll-free 800 numbers so that their potential victims can call them without their parents finding out. Others will tell the child to call collect. Both of these methods result in the computer-sex offender being able to find out the child’s phone number.
- Your child spends large amounts of time online, especially at night.
Most children that fall victim to offenders spend large amounts of time online, particularly in chat rooms. They may go on-line after dinner and on the weekends.
- Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you don’t know.
It is common for offenders to send letters, photographs, and all manner of gifts to their potential victims. Offenders have even sent plane tickets in order for the child to travel across the country to meet them.
- Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
Computer-sex offenders will work very hard at driving a wedge between a child and their family or at exploiting their relationship. They will accentuate any minor problems at home that the child might have. Children may also become withdrawn after sexual victimization.
- What Can You Do?
Utilize parental controls provided by your service provider and blocking software. Always maintain access to your child’s online account and randomly check his or her e-mail. And teach your child the responsible use of the resources online.