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Keep an Eye On While Your Children Are Surfing on the Internet

First Children's Embassy in the World Megjashi urges parents to protect their children, who due to their naivety often become victims of paedophiles
Safety on Internet 
Journalist by Daniela Trpcevska, Utrinski vesnik, 14 October 2011

Sincerity, naivety and inexperience can pose a threat to the safety of children and young people who spend an increasing amount of time on the Internet. Although the Internet is a great source of information, enables fast and easy communication, and provides access to educational and entertaining content for children, it is also a potential danger and a risk to the privacy and safety of its users.

Very often children and young people, using the opportunities for direct communication the Internet offers, chat with unknown persons who they confide in entirely and often accept to meet. An increasing number of children reveal their first sexual desires and experiences to their "Internet buddy" instead of their parents. But what happens when he turns out to be a "stalker" who can’t wait to lure children into his web?

Such is the case of a paedophile who was accused of sexual assault on a minor last year, but nevertheless continued stalking his victims on the social network "Facebook". Taking advantage of children's innocence, he falsely presented himself, lied to them and suggested meeting.

This case was reported last year to The First Children Embassy in the World Megjashi which notified the police and the Department of Cyber Crime about the tip. "We have registered tips concerning the abuse of children via the Internet on the SOS Children and Youth Hotline of The First Children's Embassy Megjashi. A large number of adults come to us to report inappropriate photos of adults or children on Facebook profiles. Also, we have tips for posting video materials with sexual content by minors in order to ruin the reputation and dignity of another minor," says the team working in Megjashi.

Young people often leave their personal information by registering on many sites, not taking into account what might happen. Furthermore, the use of the Internet allows children and youth to come in touch with inadequate content for their age, such as pornography, opportunities for distributing illegal material, etc.

"One of the cases of child pornography that The First Children's Embassy Megjashi reacted strongly to was the case of a 38-year-old Norwegian, a political adviser to the OSCE Ambassador, who is suspected for downloading from the Internet and keeping on his laptop a total of 300 videos in duration of eight hours and 30 thousand child pornography photos. A few years ago there was a 30-minute video of a sexual intercourse with an underage high school student, which was being sold in the video clubs," added the Children’s Embassy’s representatives.

Child pornography and posting inappropriate materials on the web pages are becoming part of our daily lives. The representatives of Megjashi believe that parents and guardian are crucial in protecting children while online. They must be more careful how their children use the Internet, talk openly with them and emphasise the advantages of the Internet, but also warn them of the potential risks that may arise from its improper use. At the same time, parents need to set a limit on the amount of time spent online during the day. Surfing the web should not replace entirely other important activities of the child such as doing homework, reading books and other chores, also playing outside with other children or spending time with friends.

Aside from the parents, teachers should also be alert to the safety of children and young people while online. Most schools have security systems which block certain inappropriate and harmful content on the Internet in order not to reach the computers of the school, but the primary concern should be monitoring the activities of children while using the Internet at school and creating positive habits of Internet usage. "If children have any unpleasant experiences with using the Internet we encourage them to see the school psychologist or pedagogue whom they can talk to. Also, they can call our SOS Children and Youth Hotline 0800 1 2222" indicates Megjashi’s team. To that purpose, teachers and pedagogical-psychological services in the schools should be prepared, above all, to help children to create proper habits and internet user culture which would allow unlimited use of the benefits this medium offers, without any risk. Moreover, they should always be available to students who have had a problem or an unpleasant experience because of an inadequate content or unpleasant contact made on the Internet and do everything in their power to protect and help them. "However, we would like to point out that responsible parenthood is the most important to protecting children. Everyday communication, building healthy relationships between parents and children and willingness to communicate are essential as a preventive action," suggest from Children's Embassy Megjashi.