This month JCW staff in Israel attended a conference for Israel’s new national police cyber unit “Maor” – dedicated to addressing internet-based violence and crimes against children. The conference saw representatives from police units all over the country, as well as international experts, and a number of non-governmental organisations addressing child sexual abuse and exploitation.
The information shared at this conference: the scenarios: the descriptions; most of all the numbers, were sobering. Cyber crimes against children run the gamut: child pornography; children lured using fake identities; sexting; sextortion; cyber bullying turned deadly- the list goes on.
As is often the case with each new frontier of abuse, we frequently hear from parents who believe that the frum community, with it’s limiting stance on social media, is somewhat shielded from this ever-growing issue. However, we have seen that not only is this not the case, our communities’ stance can oftentimes work to our children’s detriment.
The one safe-guard that seems to be universally agreed upon by all cyber security and child safety experts as a way to keep a handle on your child’s internet safety is by staying involved, aware, and in regular communication with your child about their online activity (see links below).
So let’s break that down.
If you believe your child doesn’t use the internet at all, and so you really haven’t discussed it with them,- you’re not involved.
If you have installed a filter and are relying on that alone to keep your child’s internet usage secure,- you are not aware.
If you don’t really understand all these apps and programs that your child has been using with their friends,- you are not in regular communication with your child about their online activity.
If you are a parent of a child growing up in 2017, you do not have the luxury of laughing off your child’s superior knowledge of technology with a “he understands this stuff better than I do!” Being uneducated about the potential dangers of the internet is no more reasonable than being uneducated about choking hazards left in the reach of your toddler.
As fast as new social media platforms and apps show up, sex offenders find a way to use and manipulate them to gain access and exploit minors. Their reach is vast, and their victim pool limitless.
Unlike contact-based sexual abuse where offenders are usually limited by geographical proximity, online sex offenders can reach your children from across the world when they are at home, completely alone.
At JCW we can tell you that our community does not make children impervious to the realities of online sexual exploitation. Frum teens blackmailed into sharing nude photos, school-children accidentally happening upon graphic sexual images and falling into the very dark world of online pornography, pre-teens waking up to photos of themselves in their underwear all over the internet- and in every case, parents utterly shocked and confused.
Starting next month, JCW is going to be running an Ask the Expert discussion via Facebook Live once a month. Our expert for the month of June will be Benny Forer, Deputy District Attorney with the Cyber Crimes Unit, lecturer at University of Southern California in cyber and privacy law, and advisor to Jewish Community Watch.
This is your chance to ask all of your questions about how to keep your children safe on the internet! Send us your questions in advance to [email protected] or message us on Facebook (please specify if you want your name kept anonymous), or check in to ask while we’re live on Wednesday June 7th at 8:30 pm EST.
Below are a number of articles with more information on this subject.