Considering Holiday Gifts
Monday, December 28, 2009
The holiday season is upon us. Christmas is now over and New Years Eve is just days away. This year went by quickly. 2009 was a monumental year in the tech world where major online social networking sites gained millions of participants. Facebook started out as a site for students. Soon, pre-teens and adults learned of its rising popularity and hopped on too. However, as we’ve seen, not all adults are welcome in this space…which brings me to think about the gifts that our kids may be asking for this year.
Many of our teens have asked for gifts, such as notebooks/ laptops, and personal computers. While here is no doubt that by having a computer, this will give teens the necessary freedom and access to complete schoolwork. However, it also takes away the opportunity to have a computer in a centralized location which can inhibit monitoring. And while it’s important to give some rope to our kids…give them some freedom, it’s also important to understand that not every teenager is ready for that type of freedom. By installing a PC solution like Mcgruff Safeguard, parents will be able to ensure their kids safety and continue to provide them advice and guidance as their parents.
I have seen teens in small towns have thousands of friends, most of whom they don’t know. It is a typical practice for teens on social networking sites to “friend” someone without having a clue who they are or where they’re from. This then gives the “friend” access to all information provided from the teenager, from hometown and high school they go to, to things they share with their best friends on the walls they write on. That is the danger of online predators. They’re sneaky and can pose to be anyone or anything in order to get in.
As the population of social networking sites grows, so do the hidden dangers many people take for granted. Just last week, a major story that broke out was about the 18-year-old U.S. student who had been accused of posing as a girl on Facebook. He tricked at least 31 male classmates into sending him naked photos of themselves, blackmailing some for sex acts.
You never know who is out there intending to do harmful acts to your kids and teens. As you consider the holiday gifts you gave your family, consider protecting them with McGruff Safeguard. Help us help you keep your family safe.
Labels: Aol News, Facebook, gifts, holiday season, McGruff Safeguard
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 6:55 AM Link to this Article
What would you do?
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
There was a story yesterday on AOLnews about a woman who turned her husband of just three months, into the authorities because she found child pornography on his computer. As a result of her phone call, Christopher Scott Norman, 42, was sentenced to a three to five year prison term.
The wife is now saying she would have taken it back because her life has “fallen apart.”
This makes me wonder about other cases. Then it makes me wonder what other people would do in the same situation. Would women hide the fact that their husbands had child pornography in order to keep themselves in the “comfort zone” they’ve been in?
What would you do if your own family members possessed child pornography? Would you be able to turn them in? Would you send them to counseling? Would you ask quesions?
I was looking back at some of the major stories from 2009 when it comes to child pornography. This is not just a US thing. This is a global issue. I know we’ve spoke about it in previous posts but it keeps coming up. So the question I pose is: What would you do?
Labels: Aol News, child pornography
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 6:13 PM Link to this Article
Recent stats in the news
Monday, December 21, 2009
McGruff Safeguard has been writing about the online habits of our teens for the past five months or so. We’ve been keeping you up-to-date on new research, new predators caught, and have mentioned folks who have been monumental in the capture of online sexual predators. But that’s not all. We’ve really been attempting to open up the eyes of parents and talking about what kids/teenagers are doing and/or struggling with.
The online habits and phone habits of teens is becoming quite the talk. There have been multiple stories out this week on this subject. What are kids into these days? The popular online social media guide site, Mashable
, just reported that “Porn” was among the top search for kids
. Here is the actual table provided in the article:
AOL last week wrote a story about one girl’s battle with cyber bullying, which was spawned over a Facebook comment being left about the popular “Twilight” novels. Here is an interesting piece which came from the article.
According to a new study by Nielsen Mobile, the average cell-phone-carrying teen
in the United States now sends 2,899 text messages every month. That's up 566
percent from just two years ago. Another recent survey by The Associated Press
and MTV found that one-third of teens and young adults age 14 to 24 engaged in
"sexting," the practice of sending sexually explicit messages or pictures via
text message. And a poll conducted by Common Sense Media found that nearly a
quarter of all teens who belong to Facebook check their page more than 10 times
each day. "This generation is consumed by technology from birth," said Larry
Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez
Hills, and the author of "Me, MySpace, and I: Parenting the Net Generation."
Speaking of sexting, Mashable also had some statistics:
According to the study, 4 percent of teens 12-17 who own cell phones have sent
nude or nearly nude photos of themselves to others via text, and 15 percent
admit that they have received these scandalous snaps. And in a country in which
58 percent of 12-year-olds and 83 percent of 17-year-olds own cell phones —
that’s a lot of flesh flashing across iPhone screens.
When I think about these articles, it leads me to believe two things.
1. Teens and pre-teens are not thinking about the consequences of their actions and the long-term effects they could have.
2. Parents are not having the right kind of conversations with their kids.
I'd like to hear from you. What are some of the conversations you have?
Do you talk to your teens about nude photos, porn, and sexting?
Granted, these are certainly not easy subjects to broach, and kids may not be as receptive as we may hope. But if you've had some success with reaching out, please let us know.
Labels: Aol News, Mashable, McGruff Safeguard, nude photos, pornography, sexting
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 5:04 AM Link to this Article
Winning a Battle
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I am so excited to be able to share this!
When PROTECT members speak, Congress listens!
We won big this week... your phone calls to Congress worked. But first, here's why it matters...
Across America tonight there are hundreds of thousands of children suffering with a terrible secret. They are being sexually abused and no one is making it stop.
But what if we knew how to locate these children?
Scientists use Geiger counters to find nuclear radiation. Soldiers use night-vision goggles to see their enemy in the dark. How do you zero in on humans who are preying on children? You use technology that detects something they frequently have in their possession: illegal child pornography.
We could save untold thousands of children right now by following the trail of illegal child pornography, and that is why PROTECT is so focused on driving our government to take action.And that's why our victory yesterday is so important!
Just two years ago, PROTECT exposed the truth about how little the FBI was doing to investigate a flourishing U.S. child pornography industry. We got the FBI to admit to Congress that it had spent less than $4 million on its elite child pornography unit.
Yesterday, Congress funded that FBI Innocent Images unit at $52.7 million!Just two years ago, PROTECT led the fight to fund state and local teams that track child pornography to locate predators and rescue their victims, then a $14.5 million effort.
Yesterday, spending for the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) teams was raised to double that amount: $30 million! Unlike groups that take government money, we struggle daily to keep our small staff fighting. You can see from victories like these that every dollar you give to PROTECT is multiplied many times over... and your money doesn't go to a bloated charity, it goes to the men and women who are working desperately to find, rescue and protect children.
We're proud to be part of PROTECT, and we hope you are too. What other group can you join that measures its success in children rescued? Where else can your dollars bring you such a rewarding gift in return?
Thank you for all of your support in 2009. With your help, we look forward to even greater successes in 2010. Please pass this letter on to everyone you know who cares about children.
--THE STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS AT PROTECT
P.S. If you'd like to donate to PROTECT online, click here or on the button at the top of this email. If you, your company or your foundation would like to make a year-end, tax-deductible contribution to our sister organization, Promise to Protect, we hope you'll visit their website at www.promisetoprotect.org and then contact them at email@example.com McGruff Safeguard
is proud to support this organization. This is a call to action. Help protect your loved ones and ones who are living in abuse.
Labels: McGruff Safeguard, national association to protect children, protection
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 11:03 AM Link to this Article
Teens in an oversexed society
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Being the step-parent of a teenager has opened up my eyes to so many things. I notice that even though I was a wild teenager, and probably doing worse things than she was at the time, I am still very protective. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older or what. But one thing I am still having a hard time grasping is how over-sexed our kids are today. Some people call me a prude or an old lady, but I really don’t care what people say. It bothers me that major teen brands such as Abercrombie and Fitch, and Levis are so blatantly sexual when it comes to advertising.
Something else that bothers me is that skirts and shorts are getting shorter and shorter, and shirts are getting lower and lower. Is it alright for our teens to start dressing like adults as soon as their 14-years old? I’ve seen some start even younger. When you mix how teens are dressing, how nearly every teen has a digital camera on their phone with millions on social networking sites, if not monitored, could hold long-term, devastating effects.
Do pictures like these send our kids a message that it’s okay to be sexually active?
Last year, Levis posted this commercial entitled First Time. You can see it here
Based upon these photos and this commercial, what do you think as parents? Do you feel our kids are oversexed as well? How do you handle this in your own home?
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 4:33 AM Link to this Article
True Stories: You don't always like what you find out
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
We have heard from parents at different levels of McGruff Safeguard. Some have used the service for one month, others started months ago. Here is a story that recently came in. I wanted to share it with you because sometimes, when you are monitoring your child/teen’s behavior, you may not always like what you find out.
"I used the service to monitor my son's chats. My 16 year-old son has lived
with his mother for many years. He asked to come live with me. Of course I said
yes. After talking to his school, grandparents, and mother, I confirmed what I
already knew from talking with him a few times a week - my son would lie, cheat
and steal to get momentary satisfaction, regardless of any long-term
I decided to monitor his activities online. I am so glad I did. Many, many
times I found out he was planning on going someplace he knew he was not allowed,
while telling me he was going to attend a church function, or some other
innocuous activity. I learned how badly he lies to girls; how he boasts of
things that only exist in his dreams; how he had lost his virginity.
Mind you, every teenage boy does some of this, and I allowed some of it to
go "unnoticed" for just that reason. But McGruff Safeguard let me know when my
son was stepping way over the boundaries of teenage foolishness and stepping
into the terminally stupid! The service gave me a look into my son's mind.
Unfortunately, I didn't like what I found there."
In situations such as these, are there ever any clear cut ways of handling it? We’re glad to know that it has opened up the eyes of parents. We also hope it has helped open up the lines of communication. We hope to help take out some of the questions you may have about what your teens are doing. Download the free version of Mcgruff Safeguard
Labels: McGruff Safeguard, online parenting, sneaking around
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 7:40 AM Link to this Article
One woman's stand against online predators
Friday, December 4, 2009
In our quest to help parents utilize our free software program geared toward monitoring the online activity of their children and teens, we’ve been looking at ways predators attempt to reach our teens. We’ve also been highlighting those who take an active roll in taking these terrible criminals off the street.
The popular fashion magazine, Vanity Fair, published an amazing article this month,highlighting Detective Michele Deery. Deery spends her days hunting for Internet predators from her office, in Media, Pennsylvania.
Here is the beginning of the article:
Detective Michele Deery works in a cubicle in the basement of the Delaware.
County courthouse, in Media, Pennsylvania. The only window is high on the wall,
over a tall filing cabinet, and opens into a well, below ground level. The space
feels like a cave, which has always struck Deery as about right, because her job
is to talk dirty online to strange men.
Deery seems altogether too wholesome for the work. She has athletic
good looks, with tawny skin, big brown eyes, and long straight brown hair that
falls over her shoulders. Her parents sent her to Catholic schools, and her
mother, a retired district judge, now jokes that she wants her money back. Her
daughter’s beat is in the vilest corners of cyberspace, in chat rooms indicating
“fetish” or various subgenres of flagrant peccancy. One of the many false
identities Deery has assumed online is something truly rare, even in this
polluted pond—that of a middle-aged mother of two pre-pubescent girls who is
offering them up for sex. Baiting her hook with this forbidden fruit, she would
cast the line and wait to see who bit.
It usually didn’t take long. Men began vying for her attention the minute
she logged on, night or day. Deery would begin a dialogue, dangling the illicit
possibility, gauging how serious her mark was. There were “players,” those who
were just horny and despicable, and there were doers, or at least potential
doers, the true bad guys. The goal was to identify the latter, hook them, and
then reel them in, turn them into “travelers.” Once a traveler took that
all-important step out of fantasy and into the real world, his behavior went
from the merely immoral to the overtly criminal. When they delivered themselves
for the promised rendezvous, instead of meeting a mother and her young daughters
they would find a team of well-armed, cheerfully disgusted Delaware County
police officers. As a fantasy, her come-on seemed overbaked—not one daughter,
but two! It is doubtful that such a woman exists anywhere, and yet men fell for
it. Her unit had a near-100-percent conviction rate. The bulletin board over her
desk displays mug shots of her catches, very ordinary-looking men, facing the
camera wide-eyed with shock, staring at the fresh ruin of their lives
Read the rest of the story by Mark Bowden here.
What Detective Deery does can’t be easy. To have to live in a dark cyber-world and converse with predators who want to hurt children is something not everyone could do. We’re thankful for people out there who do their part to put predators behind bars. Thank you, Detective Deery, and thank you, Vanity Fair, for putting out such a real story.
Labels: Internet predators, McGruff Safeguard, vanity fair
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 2:13 PM Link to this Article
Parental Reality Check
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I had the opportunity to interview an anonymous 16 year-old girl today for this blog. I really wanted to get to the heart of what teens are going through right now, see who or if they KNOW who they are talking to online, and share with you a new cyber law that New York just passed today. Let’s begin with my interviewee, *Kate. (not her real name)
Kate is from a city in Mississippi. She is a junior in a public high school. She is on Facebook, Myspace, and Tagged. Tagged.com is another global social site that I was not aware of until today. It is yet another version of the aforementioned social sites.
I asked Kate strait up if she was sexually active. She said she was not however she was the only one of her friends that was still a virgin. She said most of them became sexually active at 14 and 15 years-old. She said her religious views are what had kept her from crossing that line. Some of her friends also had the same belief system as she did, but that it didn’t stop them. She did say that she talks to boys often on the sites she is on, and it’s a way for her to meet new people around the area she is in.
I asked her if she had ever used these sites to sneak around, and if her parents monitored her use. She told me her mother asks her who she is talking to sometimes, but she just replies that she is talking to her friends. She sometimes lets her mother know if she is talking to a boy, but it depends on who it is. She also opened up and told me she doesn’t worry about her parents snooping around so much because she has these applications on her phone. She just gets on the sites there. She does still use her computer though. She just logs out of her accounts and email and keeps her passwords safe. (Please keep in mind that she had no idea what the interview was for with the exception of her knowing I was doing a piece on teens and social network/media sites.)
When I asked her if she regularly visited chat rooms…she had. She even had to go so far as to “de-friend” or “un-friend” (the act of taking someone off your “friend” list so they can no longer have access to your site.) someone because he was making sexual remarks and advances toward her. She said it “freaked” her out a bit. Kate has over 2000 Facebook friends, most of which she does not know, all of which can see ALL of her information.
Here’s is a serious realty though when it comes to having all of these FB friends which you do not know: Just today, in New York, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced
that more than 3,500 registered New York state sex offenders have been purged from social networking sites Facebook and MySpace in the first database sweep since the state’s new Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act (“e-STOP”) went into effect. 3500 registered sex offenders!!!! And that is only ONE state!
It is IMPERITIVE to KNOW what the conversation is about. Most sexual predators know how to lure and say just the right things. They know where your kids and teens are. They play in the same space!
We are going to talk more about the new laws coming out in later posts and will always keep you up-to-date on the newest ones.
It’s not just about what your teens are up to and have going on in their life, it’s about protecting them from those who want to destroy their lives. With all of the peer pressure and sexualiztion of today's society, it's not easy for them. And it's a parental reality check for us on many different levels. Know where they are. Know what they go though. McGruff Safeguard
is free. Download it today. Help us help you keep your loved ones safe.
Labels: chat room, Cuomo, e-Stop Act, Facebook, interviewing, McGruff Safeguard, monitoring, myspace, Sex Offenders, Tagged
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 7:01 PM Link to this Article