50 Online Predator Prevention Tips
Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.
Online Predator Prevention: Having been a practicing psychologist and forensic examiner before changing his career path to the study and investigation of online users who engage in malevolent and nefarious activities, Dr. Nuccitelli fully understands that most sexual predators are typically close in age to the child victim and usually family members, friends or intimate partners of their victims. Although this reality has been validated by prestigious researchers, the FBI in May 2011 published a three minute video estimating that any given time there are 750,000 online child predators trolling cyberspace for children.
Dr. Nuccitelli recently stated, “I don’t think society at large truly understands the widespread growth of child pornography and online sexual predators in cyberspace trolling for child targets. Whether you support them or not, in 2012 I read an article reporting that the group Anonymous, had announced their campaign to confront and thwart online sexual predators. As someone who is attempting to do the same thing, I applaud their endeavor.”
Simply stated, Online Predators are sexual predators who use Information and Communications Technology and the Internet to locate, target and victimize minors. Common forums used by Online Predators to target children include chat rooms, instant messaging or social networking sites for the purpose of flirting with and meeting others for illicit sexual experiences. Online Predators often are motivated to manipulate or “groom” a minor with the ultimate goal of meeting and engaging in sexual activity, despite knowing they are engaging in illegal activities.
In instances where meeting their victims to engage in sexual activities is not the primary objective, Online Predators also attempt to persuade children and teens to participate in some form of online sexual and/or sexually provocative activity motivated by sexual deviance or for financial gain engaging in the distribution and sale of child pornography.
As Information and Communications Technology (ICT) becomes widespread, cyber attack prevention, education and protection are areas requiring immediate attention. The Information Age has many benefits to humanity, but it is vital to identify and prevent the malevolent and nefarious elements that exist in cyberspace and Information and Communications Technology.
The typologies of iPredator include: Cyber Bullying, Cyber Harassment, Cyber Stalking, Cyber Crime, Online Sexual Predation and Cyber Terrorism. Within this construct, Cyber Harassment is the adult form of Cyber Bullying and used when the perpetrator is an adult. The definition and motivations of iPredator, Online Sexual Predation and Cyberstealth is as follows:
iPredator: A child, adult, group or nation who, directly or indirectly, engages in exploitation, victimization, stalking, theft or disparagement of others using Information and Communications Technology. iPredators are driven by deviant fantasies, desires for power and control, retribution, religious fanaticism, political reprisal, psychiatric illness, perceptual distortions, peer acceptance or personal and financial gain. iPredators can be any age, either gender and not bound by economic status, race or national heritage.
iPredator is a global term used to distinguish all online users who engage in criminal, deviant or abusive behaviors using ICT. Whether the offender is a cyber bully, cyber stalker, cyber criminal, online sexual predator, Internet troll or cyber terrorist, they fall within the scope of iPredator. There are three criteria used to define an iPredator including:
I. A self-awareness of causing harm to others, directly or indirectly, using ICT. II. The intermittent to frequent usage of ICT to obtain, exchange and deliver harmful information. III. A general understanding of Cyberstealth to engage in criminal or deviant acts or to profile, identify, locate, stalk and engage a target.
When an offender profile includes these three characteristics, they meet the definition of iPredator. A fourth criterion, not included in the triad defining an iPredator, is what I have termed iPredator Victim Intuition (IVI) and reserved for seasoned iPredators. IVI is the aptitude to sense a target’s online vulnerabilities, weaknesses and technological limitations increasing their success with minimal ramifications. iPredators, through practice and learning, develop a sense and/or skill of being able to experience an intuition to know what online user will be a successful target.
In addition to having IVI, the iPredator practices Cyberstealth using multiple covert strategies. In fact, the third criteria used to define an iPredator include a general understanding of Cyberstealth used to profile, identify, locate, stalk and engage a target. Also lying upon a continuum of expertise, iPredators are assessed as being advanced in their Cyberstealth practices as opposed to a haphazard approach of targeting a victim without attempting to hide their identity.
Often times, cyber bullies, ex-partners, ex-employees, angry or self-righteous online users, Internet trolls, organized groups with political, religious and moralistic causes, child molesters, pedophiles and highly narcissistic online users do not attempt to hide their identities. Cyberstealth is a strategy reserved for iPredators who seek to hide their identities online.
Cyberstealth, a concept formulated along with iPredator, is a term used to define a method and/or strategies by which iPredators devise tactics to establish and sustain complete anonymity while they troll and stalk an online target. In addition to a stratagem, Cyberstealth is a reality of Information and Communications Technology, that humanity often fails to fathom leading some online users to become high probability targets. Cyberstealth is a learned behavior that becomes more advanced with practice, trial and error and experimentation.
Here are 50 topics relevant to understanding the profiles of online child predators. Based on your child’s age and developmentally maturity, these 50 points can also be used as independent discussions. Whether you are a parent or educator, these topics are vital in your endeavor to educate a child on cyber security.
50 ONLINE PREDATOR PREVENTION TIPS
- 1. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows Internet sex crimes involving adults and children more often fit a model of statutory rape.
- 2. An adult or primary caregiver uses developmentally appropriate prevention strategies to educate the child on romance and sex.
- 3. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows how to recognize if the child has sexual orientation concerns or patterns of offline and online risk taking.
- 4. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows the characteristics of Internet-initiated sex crimes.
- 5. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows the stereotype of the iPredator using trickery and violence to assault children is largely inaccurate.
- 6. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows most Internet sex crimes involve young adult men who seduce underage adolescents into sexual encounters.
- 7. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows the majority of Internet sex crimes involve victims aware they are conversing online with adults.
- 8. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows iPredators rarely deceive their victims about their sexual interests.
- 9. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows most children who meet an iPredator face to face go to such meetings expecting to engage in sexual activity.
- 10. The child is aware iPredators primarily deceive children using promises of love and romance, but their intentions are primarily sexual.
- 11. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows most iPredators are charged with statutory rape involving non-forcible sexual activity with their victims.
- 12. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows age-of-consent law violations are the most common sex crimes against minors in general.
- 13. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows the majority of sex crimes against children are never reported to law enforcement.
- 14. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows that Internet sex crimes pursued most by law enforcement involves adult offenders who are 10 or more years older than their underage victims.
- 15. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows they are experiencing or soon to experience adolescent sexual development with growing sexual curiosity.
- 16. An adult or primary caregiver knows most early adolescent children are already aware of, thinking about and beginning to experiment with sex.
- 17. An adult or primary caregiver is aware of mid-adolescence, most children have had romantic partners and absorbed by romantic concerns.
- 18. The child is or will be educated on how Internet initiated sex crimes often involve greater self-disclosure and intensity than face-to-face relationships among peers.
- 19. Relevant to a child’s online activity, an adult or primary caregiver is aware children often struggle with emotional control during their early to mid-teens.
- 20. An adult or primary caregiver is aware the child and all children are vulnerable to seduction by iPredators due to immaturity, inexperience and the impulsiveness of exploring normal sexual urges.
- 21. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows children who send personal information to online strangers are more likely to receive aggressive sexual solicitations.
- 22. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows iPredators groom children by establishing trust and confidence first.
- 23. The child knows to never disclose their personal information at anonymous video chat sites even if together with close friends.
- 24. The child is aware chat rooms are one of the prime arenas iPredators seek out child victims.
- 25. The child is aware many chat rooms engage in explicit sexual talk, sexual innuendo and profanity.
- 26. The child is aware many chat rooms that engage in explicit sexual talk are frequented by iPredators.
- 27. An adult or primary caregiver is aware evidence suggesting children and teens who regularly visit chat rooms are more likely to have problems with sadness, loneliness or depression.
- 28. An adult or primary caregiver is aware clinical evidence suggests children and teens who regularly visit chat rooms have more problems with their parents and engage in risky behavior.
- 29. An adult or primary caregiver is aware clinical evidence suggests children lacking in social skills interact with others in chat rooms to compensate for the obstacles they have forming offline relationships.
- 30. An adult or primary caregiver is aware clinical evidence suggests younger teens are not developmentally prepared to avoid or respond to the explicit sexual invitations they are likely to encounter in many chat rooms.
- 31. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows most iPredators meet their child victims in chat rooms.
- 32. An adult or primary caregiver is aware children and teens with histories of sexual, physical and emotional abuse are more vulnerable to iPredator grooming.
- 33. An adult or primary caregiver knows a child and teen online users with histories of offline sexual or physical abuse are far more likely to receive online aggressive sexual solicitations.
- 34. An adult or primary caregiver knows emotionally abused children and teens are more at risk for online sexual victimization and exploitation.
- 35. An adult or primary caregiver knows research suggests some children and teens are more vulnerable to online sexual solicitations because they are looking for attention and affection.
- 36. An adult or primary caregiver knows childhood trauma is associated with adolescent risk behavior, risky sexual behavior and online risk behavior.
- 37. An adult or primary caregiver knows prior childhood abuse may trigger risky offline and online sexual behavior that directly invites iPredator advances.
- 38. An adult or primary caregiver knows social interaction problems and depression has been suggested to increase a child’s vulnerability to iPredator sexual abuse.
- 39. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows the only online activity more risky than posting online personal information for children and teens is conversing online with strangers about sex.
- 40. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows iPredators have not changed their tactics of stalking children online because of the advent of social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, MySpace).
- 41. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows iPredators often stalk and abduct teens based on information they have posted on their social networking profiles (i.e. Facebook, MySpace).
- 42. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows iPredators rarely stalk and abduct teens at social networking profiles (i.e. Facebook, MySpace), unless they conclude the child is susceptible to their grooming and seduction tactics.
- 43. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows children and teens who have blogs and post personal information for public display are at a higher risk of being targeted by an iPredator.
- 44. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows children and teens are more likely to receive online sexual solicitations via instant messages or in chat rooms than through social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, MySpace).
- 45. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows children and teens’ level of vulnerability to online sexual solicitation is influenced more by online interactions with online strangers rather than images and information they post on social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, MySpace).
- 46. An adult or primary caregiver knows children who interact with online strangers and engage in other risky online behaviors are significantly more likely to receive aggressive sexual solicitations.
- 47. An adult or primary caregiver knows teen females constitute a higher proportion of iPredator victims than teen males, but teen males who identify as gay or questioning their sexual orientations are at a much higher rate of online victimization.
- 48. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows the fundamental differences between a Pedophile and Child Molester.
- 49. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows sexual solicitations are defined as requests to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk, or to give personal sexual information.
- 50. An adult or the child, if developmentally appropriate, knows posting images, videos or other personal information on social networking sites is dangerous.
Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.
Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D. is a NYS licensed psychologist and cyber criminology consultant. He completed his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Adler University in 1994. In 2010, Dr. Nuccitelli authored the dark side of cyberspace concept known as “iPredator.” In November 2011, he established iPredator Inc., offering educational, investigative, and advisory services involving criminal psychology, cyberstalking, cyberbullying, online predators, internet trolls, the dark side of cyberspace and internet safety. Dr. Nuccitelli has worked in the mental health field over the last thirty-plus years and has volunteered his time helping cyber-attacked victims since 2010. His goal is to reduce victimization, theft, and disparagement from iPredators.
In addition to aiding citizens & disseminating educational content, Dr. Nuccitelli’s mission is to initiate a sustained national educational and awareness internet safety campaign with the help of private, state, and federal agencies. He is always available, at no cost, to interact with online users, professionals, and the media. To invite Dr. Nuccitelli to conduct training, media engagements, educational services, or consultation, please call him at (347) 871-2416 or via email at email@example.com.
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