FOX19 Investigates: New ways child predators target kids online
Greg Tankersley, LaSalle High School
Jennie Noll, Cincinnati Children's Psychologist
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
SnapChat. Instagram. Twitter. These days, there are lots of
places where kids are sharing the ups and downs of their lives. Notice we
didn't list Facebook.
"They don't do it (there) because Mom and Dad are on
Facebook. It's not cool anymore," said Greg Tankersley, director of community
development at La Salle
The danger is that on these newer social media outlets where
a teen's parent may not have an account --- or in my case not even knowing SnapChat exists until researching this
story --- adolescents may reveal more about themselves, their siblings, and
their friends than they would if they knew a parent was likely to see their
posts. Embarrassment isn't the only danger here. An innocent picture posted to Instagram, may attract the attention of a
"And the implications of putting something out there for public
consumption is not something that an adolescent understands, at least
intuitively, the consequences of their actions, particularly when it comes to
putting out public images or opinions or language about what they do in their
daily lives," said Dr. Jennie Noll, a psychologist at Cincinnati
She's just completed a study funded by the National
Institutes of Health looking at the ways kids present themselves online and
how often they agree to meet someone offline. Among her subjects were
low-income teenage girls along with girls who'd been abused or neglected.
"It was shocking to me that in this survey we found that 30%
of our sample had met someone offline who they first met online, whose identity
was not fully confirmed," Dr. Noll said.
Abused and neglected girls were more likely to present
themselves online in a sexually provocative way, too.
"We all meet people offline that we first met online. The
majority of those meetings are not dangerous," said Dr. Noll. "However, most
people would agree that it's one of the more dangerous things for an adolescent
female to meet someone offline…because of the probability that that could
end-up being a dangerous situation for her."
In a previous study, she met a girl who was raped after
agreeing to go to the mall to meet a guy who'd started texting her a lot.
"And he was very charming," said Dr. Noll. "And he had
(exerted) a lot of pressure for her to get in the car with him. She eventually
agreed and he took her somewhere private and a victimization situation happened
that was quite traumatizing to her."
So Dr. Noll advises teen girls that if they're not going to
bring a parent along, at least go with a large group of friends to meet someone
they only know from the internet.
She also wants to let parents know that the software you
bought to protect your kids from the dark side of the internet likely isn't
working. In her research, she's found that parents often don't know how to
set-up the parental controls on the computer or that teens find ways around
them. Instead, she urges parents to have an open, honest conversation about
what they see online, what their friends are doing, and whether they'd handle
the situation differently. (See the raw excerpt of our interview with Dr. Noll
for more on this topic.)
Dr. Noll is also a mom. And she told FOX19 that in her
household, sites like Instagram are set to private so that only her children's
friends can see what they're up to.
At La Salle High School, the biggest "scandal" has been some
insensitive tweets from some of the boys.
"A lot of times, it's kids just trying to be cute,"
Tankersley said. "We're trying to teach these young men about the ramifications
of their behaviors when they're adults. Things they do today can impact them
down the road."
La Salle's teachers and staff members know the internet is
here to stay. They're not trying to fight it. They're just trying to ensure it
has a positive impact on their students' lives.
Saturday, July 26 2014 2:09 PM EDT2014-07-26 18:09:07 GMT
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