Sue Scheff: Parenting Teen – Internet safety and Internet predators

As a Parent Advocate, this is an article that is not only critical for parents to read, but heart wrenching to write.

Every parent knows that today’s teens are at risk if they are not educated on what lurks in cyberspace. Learning to maintain your online image is part of preserving who you are, however the education doesn’t stop there. You continuously hear how college admissions are using search engines to review applicant’s, and employers are turning to Google to research information on their potential employees. What we as parents also need to remember is that Internet predators are still out there and continue to haunt young vulnerable teens, tweens and kids.

Many teens believe they would never fall prey to a predator, especiallly a sexual predator; some teens seem to believe they are too smart to become a victim. This can lead to dangerous situations. Dateline aired an excellent series, To Catch a Predator, which revealed many of these predators are intelligent and know exactly how to lure a child. I was personally shocked at who some of these predators were; educators, doctors, officers, etc.

Danielle Helms, was not only an educated parent, she took measures to secure her daughter’s safety online. However the influence of a sexual Internet predator turned her life upside down. Or should I say, turned her precious daughter’s life into a dark depression. On July 16, 2006, Kristin Helms took her own life after being overwhelmed with what she was living with; the memories of a monster that molested her. A man she meet online, a man that traveled miles to find her, a man that literally took her emotional young life.

Danielle Helms, a mother that will forever be a force and a voice for her daughter, has taken this tragedy and turned it into a mission to help other parents and educators to learn more about this important subject. The Kristin Helms Internet Safety Foundation is part of keeping Kristin’s story alive to hopefully save others.

Do you think this couldn’t happen to your child? Think twice. Here is a statement Danielle recently emailed me:

“My Kristin was a compliant, kind, intelligent, loving and talented teen, and still fell victim to an online predator. When I warned her of the dangers, I did not sincerely worry that it would actually happen to her . . .She was too smart and was not a “problem” child. You may have read that I did check up on her and took her computer away for nearly 6 months when I discovered a prohibited “MySpace” account. Unknown to me at the time, she was already communicating with the predator and used the school computers to communicate with him.”

Be sure to visit The Kristin Helms Internet Safety Foundation for a wealth of information on Internet Safety, teen depression, teen suicide, and take a moment to learn more about Kristin Helms life. Although you can’t hear her voice, she is speaking to all of us. Take notice, learn more and help her voice to be heard! 

You can follow Danielle Helms on Twitter @DanielleHelms. Her strength is amazing!

For more info: Teen Depression, Teen Suicide, Teen Internet Addiction, The Kristin Helms Internet Safety Foundation, Internet Safety Bills and Laws, CatiCares (Teens helping teens)

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