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Online predators often start with porn

PROVO, Utah — Online predators generally start out \"just\" looking at porn but escalate to preying on the most innocent and most vulnerable, said a BYU 2009 Campus Education speaker to a largely Mormon audience.\"This is one of those topics. We all wish we didn't have to talk about this,\" Charles D. Knutson said in his \"Who's watching our children online?\" class Wednesday. \"But the risk is huge and our children are so vulnerable. When it happens it's devastating.\"Knutson said parents must recognize that Internet predators are actively seeking victims, are very patient and looking for easy targets.They commit \"one of the most corrosive crimes against the most innocent,\" he said. \"What we're talking about is a set of secret combinations.\"Almost all predatory behavior begins with an addiction to porn, an addiction that feeds on and needs more and more stimulation.A predator trying to find a 13-year-old for an encounter is already in the grips of pornography.\"Understand, there's a natural shift from porn to desire for contact,\" Knutson said.Knutson said statistics show that one out of five teens get a sexual solicitation from an online stranger each year. Only a quarter of those tell their parents and less than 10 percent report it to authorities. Seventy-one percent have received e-mails from someone they don't know and half have replied.Nearly 15 percent have met in person with someone they met via the Internet, he said. One in 1,500 have complied when asked to send a sexually explicit picture of themselves to an online friend.Knutson said predators will often groom a victim for months, taking care to remain anonymous (a grown man may be \"Amy\") and become the child's best friend.Predators are looking for the lonely and friendless, those who are emotionally isolated and have a low self image. They spend unlimited time online and usually have a poor relationship with their parents.Online, they visit chat rooms and scour social networking sites. They offer or convince a child to run software that ultimately gives him full access to his or her computer.\"Where would you go as a predator to find victims?\" Knutson said.The best defense against predators is to make certain a child feels loved, valued and has a life full of meaning. Cell phone and computer time needs to be limited and monitored.Parents need to talk openly and often with their children so they feel safe in sharing anything they come across online. Be engaged,Discourage them from inviting anyone they don't know to be their online friend.\"Ask yourself what's the risk of your child having conversations with anyone they don't know?\" Knutson said.


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