"How Can I Tell If My Child's Been a Victim of Online Abuse?"

How can you tell that your child may be a victim (or is being preyed upon) by a Internet sex offender? It's not as difficult as you may think.

Here are some of the very common warnings signs you can look for.

  1. Your child spending long hours online (especially in the evening after 10:00 PM)

  2. Phone calls from people you don't know.

  3. Unsolicited gifts to your child arriving via the mail.

  4. Your child quickly turns off the computer when you enter the room.

  5. Withdrawal from family activities and friends.

  6. Reluctance or fear to discuss Internet activities.

If you've seen any of the following you have some reason for concern and should talk to your child about your concerns. At first they may not want to confide in you about what may have happened.

They may be fearful of what you'll say or think about them, or just embarrassed. Remember, victims often feel that they are at fault and are the ones responsible for their victimization.

You need to be non-judgmental, reassuring and let the child know that what happened is NOT their fault. Let them know that you will be their for them and help take care of the situation.

You'll also want to consult a professional health care advisor and possibly law enforcement as well. Cyber bullying and online harassment are criminal offences and are taken very seriously.

But remember, the child has to trust you before they will confide in you. And by trust, we mean that they have to understand that you won't judge them or punish them for what happened.

As crazy as that sounds, children think differently then do adults and don't have the emotional maturity to deal with abuse by themselves.

Take control of your child's online experiences and keep them safe.

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