Friday, April 8, 2011

Keeping kids safe from online creeps: one thing you can do right now

My husband's friend forwarded him this news segment today. It's about how creeps can track down your child's location via embedded info in photos taken with smartphones, pics that get emailed or uploaded to the Web.

The report seems somewhat sensationalized. A few months ago, I interviewed the national safety director of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Nancy McBride, for an article I was working on about toddlers and stranger danger. At the end of the conversation I mentioned I had a blog, and expressed concerns I've had about exposing the kids. Yes, I thought that over long and hard when I started writing here, and discussed it many times with Dave. But in the end we decided to go public for the greater good, inspiring other families.

McBride informed me that the vast majority of kidnapping cases involve family members. Additionally, I've read that most cases of molestation also involve family members, or people living in your 'hood—as in, people who already know your child. Not sickos who swoop in from out of nowhere.

I'm not trying to make light of the issue; too many kids get molested. Now that I've got creeps on the brain, I took a look at the number of registered offenders who live in our area, and the map on Family Watchdog showed 301 offenders. Not one was in our city per se, but still.

This is a new electronic world we live in. And I'm no tech expert, but it seems like a fine idea to change the geographical settings on your phone (aka geotagging) to private. I did.


  1. I work in the child abuse field, and absolutely, the perpetrator is very often someone who is known to the child or his/her family. (Think mommy's boyfriend or daddy's girlfriend, someone living in the same household as an in-home day care, etc.) Still, it's a crazy and new world in terms of all this.

  2. I'd never thought of that. Creepy.

  3. That's frightening. I'm glad I don't have a smartphone!

  4. I have heard of this, and it is disturbing. We're barely fact, the best pics we have are taken by my parents with disposable cameras. But still...ya can't be too careful, I say!

  5. Your right -- the perpetrator is most often a person we know - but I do think we need to be extra cautious given the technology out there. A lot of it is good, but it can be used in some very bad ways.

  6. I recently received a private message from someone ripping me a new one, saying I was 'endangering' the welfare of my kids, being a bad parent, and so forth, by showing images of them on the net, talking about them in the blog and various other places.

    While I don't necessarily agree, and I don't take pictures with a phone cause I don't OWN a cell phone and I also come from the school of If It Is a Picture You Want Use a Camera If It Is a Conversation You Seek Use a Phone and If You Want to Access the Web Use Your Laptop, I still felt like a turd and have questioned myself for the last several days since getting the beatdown.

  7. Ken, stay strong! I have a lot to say about this, too much for a comment. I'm going there in a post on Monday.

  8. I had to take a three hour seminar on child abuse/molestation as part of my teacher training. Strangers didn't come up once. Rather the focus was on friends of the family and school personnel. In the grand scheme of things, I'm much more worried about the pervert in my community than the one over the Internet. Still, I shy away from pictures of Charlie where he's not fully clothed and keep those for friends and family. Also, I don't allow geo-tagging on my photos.


Thanks for sharing!

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