For years past, the image of the abducting stranger was the man with the trench coat who had copious amounts of candy with which he lured unsuspecting victims away from playgrounds. Later on it became the man with the van in search of an allegedly lost puppy who asked for the childâ€™s help in locating the lost pet. These days the predator is much more sinister in that he does not have an easily recognizable face.
He may be short or tall, heavy or skinny, and of any age and racial background. The only think linking him to others of his ilk is his unholy lust for contact with children and he will go to great lengths to make sure such contact will happen â€“ preferably far away from the watchful eyes of parents or guardians.
Alerting your child to the danger of this amorphous stranger requires you to play the â€œwhat ifâ€ Internet quiz. The goal of this activity is the realization â€“ on your childâ€™s part â€“ that each and every person online is suspect and that nobody should be trusted.
Knowing common themes germane to most Internet predators is a key component of this exercise. For example, it is vital to realize that the average Internet creep will attempt to make personal contact with your child by alleging that she or he is in town with parents and they should meet.
An admonition to come alone and not tell parents â€“ so they wonâ€™t â€œwig outâ€ about the childâ€™s meeting someone in persona with whom they have been talking online usually is par for the course. Thus, a useful Internet quiz question might be â€œhow will you handle an online friend who asks you to not share your plans with parents?â€
Sure, the answer to the above is blatantly obvious, but you will be amazed how easily especially younger children are stumped by this scenario.