Proactive parenting: save teens from drastic online encounters

If someone asks, “what do you think is the most difficult task in life?” For most, the answer would be “parenting”. However, to be more accurate, one can say proactive parenting is the most demanding and difficult, yet necessary task. As a child progresses through different stages of growth this task becomes even more daunting. During their teenage years kids are harder to manage for parents. They rebel when asked to follow rules and become reclusive in to avoid interference in their lives. In such situations parents need to be proactive and creative when dealing with issues concerning their teens’ safety, like following the curfew, responsible driving and use of internet.

With children spending most part of their day on internet, parents have to be vigilant about their activities online. With proper attention, two-way communication and positive parenting techniques, parents can prevent any mishap online. But what will happen when teens fall in the trap of online predators and rebel against their parents? In such unfortunate situations parents need to come out of their comfort zones and take action to save their children from any harm.

An unfortunate encounter

Every situation is unique and should be dealt differently. However, the following incident would give parents a perspective into situations where teens are wooed by pedophiles online. Recently, in Spokane, Washington, a couple managed to save their 15-year-old daughter from making the mistake of eloping with a man twice her age, whom she met on Facebook. These parents worked as a team to thwart the man, with a help of family friends.

A thirty-year-old man wooed the teenage girl through the “Are You Interested” app on Facebook. They met in April on the social media network and from then on had been interacting through different channels online. The parents found out about her online relationship on June 7. They tried to talk to their kid and explain to her the consequences of the said interaction, but she wouldn’t listen. So, they took her laptop away and locked her out of her Facebook account. The teen’s mother continued to send the online guy Facebook messages, posing as her daughter. In the last message, they decided to meet at the girl’s family house. When the guy arrived at the house, the teen’s father with couple of his friends were already waiting for him in an alley at the back of the house. They locked the man inside the house and handed him over to the police. Now, the online guy, identified as Jason D. Richards faces charges in Spokane County Superior Court of child rape and attempted kidnapping.

The incident mentioned explains a number of things about proactive parenting in the most difficult situations.

  • First of all, parents should know how to protect children on the internet and try their level best to avoid difficult situations
  • On finding their teen has been trapped by an online predator they should sit down and discuss it to find a rational way out
  • Try to take your child into confidence and explain the dangers of getting in to a relationship with a person older than them
  • If the teen gets violent or rebels, then parents should take away the liberties and gadgets which are the source of their communication with the predator
  • Besides curbing virtual freedom, parents would have to keep a strict check on their teen’s physical activities
  • Contact the local police and coordinate with them to trace the predator and get him arrested
  • Close friends or the community should be contacted for help

It is important to develop trust and communication with teens. It doesn't matter if it's a girl or a guy, kids tend to listen to their parents if they think their parents listen to them as well. 


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