Internet Predator Facts and Signs
Monday, March 1, 2010
Internet predators are out there. Period. They are lurking in the corners of the same spaces your loved ones are in. The Internet provides a shield for the growing number of predators out there. It allows for them to use fake aliases and photos in order to pretend they’re someone else.
Internet predators target both boys and girls of all ages. They lie and manipulate, try to come across as someone who “cares” or someone who “listens” to them, especially during a rough patch in teen years. They make friends with kids who seem emotionally vulnerable and typically respond to any complaints in a sympathetic, “understanding” sort of way.
McGruff Safeguard is here to help stop Internet predators by allowing parents to download software in order to monitor chats, emails, and social media networking activity that your child is involved with, such as Facebook or Myspace. It gives our experts the opportunity to monitor the conversations and look for such content that may be alarming and report it to the parents.
Here are some warning signs that we’ve come across that parents can look for if they suspect suspicious activity along with using McGruff Safeguard:
Predator Warning Signs
- Child spends a lot of time online
- You find porn on the computer
- Receive phone calls, mail, or gifts from people you don’t know
- Withdrawal from normal activity
- Switches tabs quickly if you enter a room (this can be done by pressing Alt + Tab)
- Uses other accounts for e-mail or Instant Messaging
McGruff Safeguard monitors for a variety of things outside of predators as well, such as depression, drug abuse, lying, sneaking around, acronyms, sexual abuse, suicide, etc. Our software enables us to detect that is going on with your loved ones to get you the information you need to facilitate conversation. It’s a fact that the Internet is a part of our everyday lives and the lives of our kids. By choosing McGruff Safeguard, you’re choosing to help protect your children.
Labels: children safety, Internet predators, McGruff Safeguard, warning signs
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 9:02 AM Link to this Article
Lastest Michigan Internet predator arrest
Monday, February 22, 2010
McGruff Safeguard will continue to keep you up-to-date on Internet Predator Stings. Here is a story out of Lansing MI of their most recent Internet predator encounter and arrest:
Attorney General Mike Cox today announced the results of an undercover Internet child predator sting that led to the arrest of a Grand Rapids resident.
Scott Alan Owen, 28, is accused of using the Internet to solicit a minor for sex after making advances in online chats towards who he thought was a 14-year-old girl. He was actually chatting with investigators from the Attorney General's office and the volunteer organization Perverted Justice.
"The Internet can be a dangerous place, making it critically important parents know what their children are doing online," said Cox.
Owen, who reports he is employed by a local manufacturing company and identified himself as a member of the National Guard, was arraigned yesterday in 63-2 District Court before Judge Sara J. Smolenski on one count of using the Internet to accost a child for immoral purposes, a 10-year felony and one count of using a computer to disseminate sexually explicit matter to a minor, a four-year felony . Bond was set at $5,000, and Owen is scheduled to be in court for a Preliminary Examination on January 20, 2010.
Using the screen name " recon101_2000 ," the defendant engaged in sexually explicit chats and solicited undercover agents posing as a 14-year-old girl. Working together, the Attorney General's office and Perverted Justice identified the defendant and arrested him in his Grand Rapids home.
If parents believe their child had contact with Owen, they are asked to contact the Attorney General's office at (313) 456-0180. Parents and schools may also contact the Attorney General's office for information on our award-winning educational program, the Michigan Cyber Safety Initiative (Michigan CSI), which has been taught to more than 400,000 Michigan children.
To date, the Attorney General and his Child and Public Protection Unit have arrested 253 Internet sex predators. An August 2009 sting in Livingston County yielded nine arrests, while 21 predators were arrested during an October 2008 sting in Grand Rapids.
Just as Attorney General Mike Cox suggests, it is important to know what your kids are doing online, and it’s also important to know who they’re chatting with. By monitoring with McGruff Safeguard, you can be sure that you and your local authorities are the first to know if anyone solicits your child. Contact us today to let us know how we can help you protect your loved ones.
Labels: Grand Rapids, Internet predator arrest, Lansing, Livingston County, McGruff Safeguard, online monitoring
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 9:45 AM Link to this Article
When strangers friend your kids: A parent's view
Friday, February 19, 2010
I happened to be sitting in a Starbucks on Tuesday, waiting for my scheduled meeting party to arrive. There was a woman and a man sitting about five feet away from me. The woman must not have minded my presence because she was not making any attempt to keep her conversation private. (Good for me because I got a parent’s take on Facebook and my meeting was 30 minutes late.)
So this Mom is talking to this guy. They were both in their 40’s. She was talking about her 15-year olds Facebook. The Mom was also a Facebook user. The mother had accepted a random 50-year old man’s friend request. She didn’t really know the guy but said she was open to meeting new people and they had been chatting and emailing.
The next thing she knew, the man had befriended her daughter. “What is a 50-year old man befriending my daughter for? He doesn’t know her. That is creepy and weird. My daughter must have thought that was okay because he was one of my friends. She must have thought I knew him from my work circle or something.”
The mom went on to say that this man had requested to be friends with many of her friends. She seemed creeped out enough by this that she told her daughter to take him off as her friend and she did the same.
Facebook is a great social network but there are some creepy folks out there that may find adults to friend, then friend their children. If you’ve never thought about getting a Facebook account yourself, perhaps it may be a good idea. That way, you can see who your kid’s friends are. Between monitoring from an outside perspective and using McGruff Safeguard, you can rest assured that we can see if there is any behavior that is out of the ordinary, then alert you.
It was good to see that this mother was on top of what was going on in her teen’s social media realm. It was also nice to see that she recognized a potential danger and put a stop to it. What are some of your experiences as parents? Has anything like this happened in your world? Are you a member of a social network? We’d love to hear from you.
Labels: Facebook, friending, McGruff Safeguard, parents, strangers
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 5:58 AM Link to this Article
Chatroulette (Chat Roulette)
Monday, February 15, 2010
Yesterday, I was video chatting with one of my best friends in Florida. Video chatting is awesome when someone like me lives in Indiana and has friends all over the world. But I’m an adult. This makes me wonder how our kids are using video chatting. With new models of computers with built-in cameras, this makes it easy for strangers to actually SEE our kids.
Okay, back to my conversation with my Florida friend. We’re talking about how we love to video chat because we never get to see each other, and it’s like sitting in the same room with him when we talk. He was telling me about this new website called Chatroulette. Chatroulette is a website where you can pop in, turn your camera on, and randomly start talking to strangers all over the world, face to face. At the time I am writing this blog, Monday morning, there are 14,280 users on Chatroulette.
Under the “terms and conditions” the participator must be at least 16 years-old and ChatRoulette does not tolerate broadcasting obscene, offending, pornographic material. They say they will block any users who violate those rules. However, it would take someone “reporting” the behavior in order for any consequences to happen.
That said, there are a couple of different sides I see to this. 1) This is a bit scary because kids can lie and get on there at ages younger than 16, and some sicko won’t report it because he/she is loving it. Or 2) if the kids see who they’re talking to, perhaps that would sway them to not chat with them anymore.
The psychology is different for different kids. Some may do it because of the “thrill” of it. Some may be more leery. However, regardless of who is more responsible, the danger that our kids could be chatting it up with someone who could potentially harm them is there. Know who your kids are chatting with and how long they are spending online in chat rooms. Download McGruff Safeguard. Help us help you keep your loved ones safe online.
Labels: chatroulette, McGruff Safeguard, online predators, online safety, video chatting
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 6:14 AM Link to this Article
Alicia’s Story: Tortured and raped by an Internet Predator
Saturday, February 13, 2010
The Internet can be a scary place for teenagers. Last April, Oprah did a story on Alicia. I wanted to share it with you because 1) even though we think our teens are responsible, sometimes they make decisions with out really thinking about the consequences and 2) internet predators LIE. They will say and do almost anything to get what they want. Here is her story as reported from Oprah :
When Alicia was 13 years old, she made headlines as the girl who was lured by an Internet predator—and survived.
Alicia was a shy girl from a close-knit family, but on New Year's Day in 2002, she did something completely out of character. She agreed to meet a friend she had been chatting with online for eight months.
Alicia says she hated the cold and never went outside alone after dark. "Yet it's the coldest, darkest iciest night of the year and I walk out my front door to meet a total stranger," she says. "That's something that's so out of my character and just shows you an example of how intense the brainwashing is."
"I can remember standing behind a tree and thinking, 'This is really stupid.' My senses came back to me for a second." At that moment, Alicia says she heard her name being called out and got into the car with 38-year-old Scott Tyree. "Once I got near him, something changed and I realized that this person's a monster," Alicia says.
Tyree drove Alicia to his home in Virginia. Over the next four days, Alicia says she was raped, bound in chains, shocked with volts of electricity and hung by her arms as her 13-year-old body was beaten.
"He tortured me," Alicia says. "He treated me like an animal—a dog. I basically did whatever I had to to survive. It's like I'm a whole entirely different person. That man did kill that little girl. He did. That girl's completely dead."
Tyree bragged to his friends about the girl held captive in his basement. He even videotaped her bound and chained and shared those images over the Internet.
One of the friends Tyree had been sharing his webcam videos with online saw Alicia's face in the newspaper and decided to turn Tyree in. "I suppose he got nervous that this was now going to be on his hands if [Tyree] murdered me," Alicia says.
After four days of sheer hell, Alicia was rescued by the FBI. She was found chained to the ground by lock and collar. "When I said he treated me like a dog, he did," Alicia says.
Alicia says she now realizes she was groomed by a child predator. "He groomed me, and in doing so, he brainwashed me. That sounds crazy, but he did. He took apart the 13-year-old girl that I was and created this creature that he wanted me to be."
To understand what it's like to be groomed, Alicia says to remember what it was like to be 13 years old. "There's days where the world's wonderful, and there's days where it seems like the world just hates you." The bad days are when Alicia says the predators step in. "There's somebody there, always there, to tell you that it's going to be okay."
Alicia says it was the simple things Tyree would say to gain her trust. "Like getting in a fight with your mom because you wouldn't clean your room. And he'd say: 'Oh, well, why would she treat you like that? You're an adult. It's her room, she'll clean it.' Or you get a bad grade in school and he'll look at the answer you gave and say: 'No, that's right. You're really smart. You think outside of the box. Your teacher is an absolute idiot.'
"After eight months of talking like that, it takes you apart," Alicia says. "It does. And he's always there, all the time."
When Alicia started her relationship with Tyree, social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook didn't exist yet. "That wasn't even around when this happened to me, so there's this whole other level of danger they need to be aware of, and it's sad. It's sad because it should be something wonderful connecting with your friends. That's something children should be able to do. But the world's so scary that they can't. There's so many bad people in it that they can't, and that's horribly sad."
Tyree pled guilty to charges of sexual exploitation of a minor and travel with intent to engage in sexual activity with a minor. He was sentenced to 19 years in federal prison.
Alicia is now fighting to keep predators like Tyree behind bars. A junior in college, she spends much of her time speaking at schools about her ordeal, and hopes to join the FBI so she can fight for other children.
Learn about Alicia's Law here.
When we hear of stories like these, it just goes to show how important it is to monitor your children's online interactions. You can never be too safe when it comes to your children. If you've not already, download McGruff Safeguard today. Help us help you keep your loved ones safe.
Picture from Oprah.com
Labels: Alicia's Law, Internet predators, internet safety, McGruff Safeguard, Oprah
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 12:06 PM Link to this Article
Girl on Girl Fighting: A scary new trend
Monday, February 8, 2010
Last week, The Early Show did a report about a scary trend that has been emerging. Viral videos of teen girls fighting have been popping up across the country. In the video you see here, there are two adults watching, both who have now been charged with felony counts of cruelty to a juvenile because nothing was done to stop the fighting. (Click "The Early Show" to view report and video.)
Is this something that is becoming glorified? The Early Show reported that before, it was mainly boys who got into fights. Now with the technology so readily available to video these kinds of activities, and with the psychological push that someone can become a viral celebrity overnight, I am wondering if this is just fueling the need for some teens to be noticed.
According the local educators, almost 80% of school fights are now girl on girl, which some believe is fueled by the internet. Which brings us to what are kids are viewing online, is it good? Is it healthy?
When we think about what our kids have access to online during this influential time in their life, are you curious to know what they’re viewing? Do you think knowing for sure what they’re influenced by would help you facilitate conversation with them? These are not just “teen” issues. There are serious consequences to those who participate in these types of behaviors that can haunt them later on down the road.
It is so important for parents to discuss these crucial matters with kids. Not only must we discuss these issues, we must also be a positive influence on them. If our kids don’t see us behaving in a positive manner toward others, for example, if we are mean and tend to want to fight or be hateful, what makes us think they would be any different?
By downloading McGruff Safeguard, you are choosing to be a part of their life. You are choosing to know what they're into. Understand the kinds of influences that are shaping them. By downloading McGruff Safeguard, we can give you exact information on what they’re viewing online. Let’s all be a part of the solution. What are your thoughts?
Labels: bullying, fighting, McGruff Safeguard, The Early Show
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 8:04 AM Link to this Article
Facebook hits new milestone
Friday, February 5, 2010
For those of you who aren’t a “techy” type like me and keep up with the news, Facebook just celebrated it’s 6th birthday. Along with that birthday came a new milestone as the popular social networking site just hit its 4 million member mark.
Mashable, a top social media news site, reports:
Two months ago the social network hit 350 million, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg reminds us that number was less than half of today’s 400 million mark a year ago. It took the site about three months to climb from 300 to 350 million users and only about two months to gain another 50 million, indicating Facebook’s explosive growth is actually still accelerating.
As great as this is for Facebook, this only ups the ante for internet predators to interact with kids and teens. This is why it is so important to incorporate McGruff Safeguard into an everyday habit. Parents can feel more at ease knowing their conversations are monitored to inform them of any suspicious activity. However, its not just about catching internet predators, it’s also about keeping kids and teens safe from themselves. In other words, if there is any sign of depression or suicidal thoughts, we inform the parents strait away. If we notice any suspicion of drug use, or sexual abuse, we let parents know.
Facebook has been a huge communication platform for people of all ages and it started with the Gen Y’ers. There have been many posts that cause concern, and some lives have been saved because of this social network. A few months back, I posted about how my friend had noticed her nephew’s posts were getting more and more disturbing to him. She ended up reaching out to him because of these posts. It ended up being a pivotal moment because he was sad and was contemplating suicide. He is doing much better now since his aunt reached out.
We’ve had parents share stories with us. We’ve heard stories of success, of deeper communication, and also stories where parents were just grateful to know a little better about what their kids were up to, good, bad and ugly.
As popular social sites grow, so does the need for more monitoring and more concern over who is on these site. Download McGruff Safeguard today. Join the force that is dedicated to knowing their children better.
Labels: Facebook, Internet predators, internet safety, Mashable, McGruff Safeguard, Milestone
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 3:03 PM Link to this Article
Monday, February 1, 2010
According to the AP and reported by the Sacramento Local News, a MySpace message lands a Sacramento man in jail. Police says he tried to have sex with a teenager, but the girl's father found out and then stepped in. Police arrested George Hanna, 28, after he tried to meet up with a 13-year-old for sex, after soliciting her on Myspace.
It all began when the girl’s father decided to check her MySpace profile. At that time, Hanna began to send sex messages, not knowing it was the girl’s father. According to the article,
"I messaged the guy back and said I was 13, he actually said that was
cool. He told me some sexual stuff that he wanted to do," says the teen's
father. "He kept insisting that we meet."
So, the father met Hanna 30 minutes later in a parking lot off Arden
Way around 1 am, and brought his camera with him to take pictures of him. "He
looked at me and I started pulling out my camera to take pictures of him, and he
asked if I knew him, and I said 'no, but you know my 13-year-old daughter who
you want to sleep with.' That's when he started to run away," he told CBS13.
That's when he called the police who arrested Hanna later that morning
at his residence. But, investigators warn against parents taking this approach
to stopping suspected sexual predators.
"Certainly, you don't know what this other individual is capable of
doing and you don't want to confront somebody on your own," say authorities.
This father says he probably won't do it again, but hopes Hanna won't see
anything other than a prison cell for the next few years. I think anyone who is
going to come out and sleep with a 13-year-old shouldn't be on the street," he
This is an excellent example of why it’s important to monitor your loved ones online. This happened in January. Thankfully, the father wasn’t hurt. However, had McGruff Safeguard been put into place, the father could have immediately reported and been kept out of harm’s way. Download McGruff Safeguard today for up-to-date instant messages, emails, or conversations that have anything to do with drugs, sexual abuse, suicide, bullying, etc. We also help parents with acronyms that your kids are using. Help us help you keep your loved ones safe.
Labels: McGruff Safeguard, myspace, sacramento, sex soliciting
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 6:24 AM Link to this Article
Taking an active role
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I’ve been thinking about McGruff Safeguard quite a bit lately. Especially since my 7 year-old niece is now on Facebook. I have a firm sense of relief as more and more parents are signing up to monitor what is going on with their kids. We’ve had some parents concerned about privacy issues. We’ve had parents who aren’t concerned about that at all. However, once they’ve tried it and are able to communicate better with their kids and teens and will know if any sexual predators try to harm their kids, they’d be notified, they don’t regret making that decision.
I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but by taking the steps and downloading McGruff Safeguard
, you’re actively contributing to stopping internet predators. You’re actively taking the steps to be a better parent to your children. You’re actively taking a roll from a position of strength. That means something. The following came in from one of our parents:
The service is great! I had a couple incidences with my 14 year old daughter. There were boys at her school that she was friends with and they started to say things to her that were sexual and degrading. I was glad I had the opportunity to view the comments to let my daughter know that what they were saying was disrespectful and that "no boy or man" has a right to talk to any girl the way they did. Also, that she should have responded back to them with disgust and that it was unacceptable.
I do not feel like I am invading her privacy because there are so many issues that come up and need to be discussed in today's society. I did however tell my daughter that I have the service and it alerts me to sexual content via email. The service is the most important thing a parent should have if they allow their child freedom on the computer-internet. I personally know of a parent that does not have the service and never checks up on their child to see what they are doing on the internet. If they only knew that this boy spent most of his nightly hours on the x-rated sites and is hooked on pornography.
Parenting is tough enough. With the ever-advancing technology, I don’t see it getting any easier. Download McGruff Safeguard
today. You’ll be glad you did.
Labels: Facebook, McGruff Safeguard
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 12:07 PM Link to this Article
Bullying Leads to 15-year-old Suicide
Monday, January 25, 2010
We have posted many articles about bullying via texts and social media platforms such as Facebook and Myspace. We have heard of a few teen suicide stories which these platforms have been a launch pad of emotional abuse. Here’s one more to add to it. One thing we need to keep in mind as parents is that our kids don’t think like we do. Some things we understand, which only come with growth and maturity, are far out of the scope of the “everyday reality” that our kids face on and offline.
Phoebe Prince is yet another example of why it’s so important to get in touch with that reality…their reality. According to the Boston Globe
, Prince had been a victim of both bullying and cyber bullying, which authorities believed may have prompted the 15 year-old to take her life.
Prince and her family moved to Western Massachusetts last year from a small village in west Ireland. Last fall, she enrolled at South Hadley High School which has a student body of approximately 700 students.
“In a school with that many kids, there are going to be issues,’’
Sergeant Robert Whelihan, a spokesman for the South Hadley Police Department
said yesterday. “We are investigating what effects the bullying might have had
on the suicide.’’
The bullying included disagreements over teen romances at school, school
officials said. And it continued with taunting text messages and harassing
postings on Facebook, the popular social networking site.
“The real problem now is the texting stuff and the cyber-bullying,’’ said
South Hadley School Superintendent Gus A. Sayer. “Some kids can be very mean
towards one another using that medium.’’
You may think to yourself, “Well, if my son/daughter were having issues with other kids, they would surely let me know.” Unfortunately, this is not always the case. They may feel embarrassed, disconnected, or ashamed of what is happening. There are lots of reasons kids don’t communicate as we do. They’re kids. If they knew any differently, they probably would.
That’s why it’s important to know what is happening behind the scenes. McGruff Safeguard
is about keeping those you care about safe. It’s about giving you the information necessary to facilitate conversation.
Could this suicide have avoided? I absolutely think so. There is a whole mess of stuff that happens that we don’t know about. If your kids are being cyber bullied…that’s one thing we can alert you on. Then, you have an inside look as to what your kids are going through. Download McGruff Safeguard
today. It can definitely make you aware, and it may help save a life.
Labels: bullying, cyberbulling, Facebook, McGruff Safeguard, myspace, Pheobe Prince, South Hadley High school, teenage suicide
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 8:32 AM Link to this Article
In Memory Of Amber
Monday, January 18, 2010
January 13th was Amber Alert Awareness day, marking the 14-year anniversary of the abduction and murder of 9-year-old, Amber Hagerman. On that tragic day in 1996, Amber was riding her bike in Arlington, Texas, when a neighbor heard her scream. The neighbor saw a man pull Amber off her bike, throw her into the front seat of his pickup truck, and speed away. The neighbor immediately called the police and provided a description of the suspect and his vehicle. Arlington Police and the FBI interviewed other neighbors and searched for the suspect and vehicle. Local radio and television stations covered the story in their regular newscasts. Four days later Amber’s body was found in a drainage ditch four miles away. Her kidnapping and murder still remain unsolved.
This story is heartbreaking. However, since the Amber Alert Awareness Program has been in existence, it has played a role in recovering nearly 500 missing children. According the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
, the AMBER Alert Program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, and transportation agencies to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. Broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to air a description of the abducted child and suspected abductor. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child.
It makes me think of how much easier it is today for predators, such as the one who abducted Amber and is still out there, can have access to our kids online. That is why there is such value in having a parental control software program like McGruff Safeguard
, installed on your computer. It is ultimately a tool for parents, however, if there ever comes a time where law enforcement needs to be contacted for any reason, there is documentation of what was happening online.
It’s a scary world out there at times. There is nothing more important than keeping our families safe from those who would want to do them harm. Help us help you keep your loved ones safe.
Labels: Amber Alert Awareness Day, Amber Hagerman, McGruff Safeguard, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 9:23 AM Link to this Article
Tweens on Facebook: Start Early, Start Now
Friday, January 8, 2010
You can probably imagine my surprise when I received an email notification that my 7-year old niece has requested my friendship on Facebook. Now, I instantly thought of my 11-year old nephew, the brother, and his participation on the social media platform. I felt it was a little young for him. So, I am thinking to myself, “Wow…what is my sister thinking?” (Btw, I will be having a conversation with her about this, and installing McGruff Safeguard for monitoring them.)
What this goes to show, is that our kids are becoming more and more technologically savvy, and they are hopping on social sites daily at a faster and younger rate. It makes me think of my daughter. She will be 6 tomorrow. I am thinking that it will be HIGHLY unlikely that in one year from now, she’ll be allowed to be on Facebook. Right now, I’m just okay with the whole Webkinz
site. She certainly won’t be participating in a FB forum anytime soon. But back to technologically savvy kids… parents are finding that their teens are far more advanced in internet knowledge than they are. This can be scary and overwhelming to a parent.
With this advanced internet knowledge, I’ve had many parents say they believe that developmentally, tweens and teens need some level of privacy and should be extended trust. I agree that trust should be extended. I also think that by allowing your kids to be active on these sites is giving them trust. That doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t be thinking that they don’t monitor and protect their kids from what they are not aware is out there. Perhaps the best way to do this is by looking into the option of McGruff Safeguard
in order to be ‘notified’ for critical behavior rather than monitoring every interaction that their tweens or teens have.
This gives parents the opportunity to set the stage NOW on how their child will use the internet, establishing from day one that they will monitor their kids’ activity, ensuring that they are safe from the outside, and also mentoring them on their online interactions and conversations.
Our parents were able to provide input to us on how we talked to others, how we interacted with friends, how we needed to respect other people. Kids (tweens especially) today still need that guidance; even though HOW we do it is changing. Help us help you keep your family safe online.
Labels: Facebook, McGruff Safeguard, technology, tweens, Webkinz
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 2:08 PM Link to this Article
Teen Suicide Awareness
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
I was reading in the news yesterday about teenage suicide, which prompted me to do a bit of research on the subject…how often, what the statistics are, and see if there was an increase in cases since most teens are now online in social spaces like Facebook and Myspace.
Here’s what I found: According to Our Health, Our Future
- 10,000 teens commit suicide each year.
- Over the past 25 years the rate of teen suicide has increased 300%.
- Suicide attempts occur more often in females than in males, the ratio is 9:1.
- Girls who attempt suicide tend to overdose on drugs or cut themselves.
- Completed suicide occurs more often in males than in females with a 3:1 ratio.
- Boys who commit suicide frequently use firearms and hanging.
- Suicide is a result of untreated depression. Many of the high-risk factors and some of the warning signs are the same for depression.
What’s even more alarming is there are websites glorifying suicide and even giving the “best” methods of doing it. An example of a slide I found in relation to this topic was from the UK organization, Papyrus (Prevention of Young Suicide). They explained that “online ‘advice’ about suicide ranges from --responsible organisations, the caring and sympathetic, neutral dissemination of information to outright predators.” They also said, “Out of 240 different websites 45 judged to be encouraging, promoting or facilitating suicide (Biddle and others - BMJ 2008).
Here is an example of a suicide method site:
500 feet of 3/4” rope;
Car, with at least a 286-NP 6-banger, with good tires. Known for excellent reliability, pick-up.
Case of beer, various tranquilizers.
Do up! Load up and party!
1. Tie one end of the rope securely to a huge tree.
2. Make a nice hangman’s noose in the other end of the rope.
3. Get in the car, run the rope in, and buckle-up, because it’s the law!
4. All buckled in nice and secure?
Well, now just put that ol’ hangman’s noose around your little neck, and pull the damn thing up tight.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty scary. However, monitoring social networks can help prevent some teen suicides. Two doctors would agree:
“Analysing posts on social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook
could help to prevent suicide, according to two Victoria University
Dr Tiong-Thye Goh and student assistant Yen-Pei Huang, both from the
School of Information Management at Victoria University, have devised a decision
support system to scan social networking sites to identify key words that people
aged between 18 and 24 are posting. A high proportion of key words could mean
that the blogger is at risk of depression, suicide, self-harm or harming
"Social networking sites have in recent years become an increasingly
popular avenue for young people to express and to share their thoughts, views
and emotions," says Dr Goh.
"When young people are emotionally distressed for instance, instead of
the traditional channel of consulting friends, parents or specialists, social
networking blogs may provide a channel to share and release their emotions and
A few months back, I wrote a post about an aunt who noticed warning signs from her depressed nephew. She reached out. It changed so many things about his life. McGruff Safeguard is here to help monitor any key words that would indicate your child may be contemplating this permanent fate. In the next post, we’re going to lay out some warning signs, and dive a bit deeper into suicide prevention. Together, we can help make a difference in someone’s life.
Labels: keywords, McGruff Safeguard, pro suicide websites, social media monitoring, teenage suicide
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 7:44 AM Link to this Article
Saturday, January 2, 2010
It’s that time of year again. The time where you reflect on the past year and look to see what mistakes you’ve made and how you could do things differently from now on. Did you have any frustrations with your kids and their online behavior? Did anyone in your family a victim of cyber bullying? Did you feel like you had a sense of control only to realize things weren’t as they seemed? Parenting in the year 2010 will have its challenges, especially when it comes to monitoring the online behavior of your teens.
We want to give a couple of tips for making this year safe for your kids/teens online:
- Consider installing McGruff Safeguard on all the computers in your house that your kids are on - McGruff Safeguard and help monitor conversations that are taking place online and will alert you if there is any suspicion of abusive behavior. Whether it is sneaking out, drugs, sexual abuse, or cyber bullying. If you are aware of what is going on in the lives of your kids, it opens up a door for discussion. With it being so difficult growing up and learning how to do things for yourself, kids often hold back any feelings of hurt or concern. If you know what is going on with them, knowing helps facilitate conversation.
- Be open with your teens – Always remember that growing up is never easy. When you approach a subject out of love rather than judgment, people have a natural inclination to open up versus coming at them harsh and watching them shut down. I have so much personal experience in this area. My parents were very hard on me and very judgmental over what I did that was not up to their approval. Know that your teens are going to make mistakes and do stupid things. I believe that’s part of the growing process. However, boundaries are important. And explaining the “why’s” can help them to understand a little better.
- Know who your kids are hanging out with – Sometimes the people who you think are a negative influence on your kids are the ones who you can make the biggest impact with. When you have McGruff Safeguard on your computers, at least you can see what they’re not always telling you. If you use a service like this for the good, everyone can benefit from various lessons learned.
- Talk to your kids about online predators and cyber bullying– If you need to show them different stories of victims and people, do it. Be sure to let them know that that not everyone they come in contact with online is who they say they are. There have been multiple stories in the past year of this. It’s important for them to be safe with how much information they share on their online profiles and such.
If you have any questions about any of these things, we’re here to help. Please keep sending us your stories. We wish you a wonderful and safe New Years. Here’s to making a positive change this year.
Labels: cyberbulling, McGruff Safeguard, new year, online predators
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 11:47 AM Link to this Article
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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
The Fine Line of Boundaries
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Last night, I had the privilege of being courtside at an Indiana Pacers game. One of the things I noticed being on the court and watching the players, is they are very keen to their feet. They are constantly aware of that boundary line in which if they cross, they will hear the whistle letting them know they’re out of bounds. It got me thinking about the boundary lines we have for our kids and how consistent we are with those boundaries.
You know, I’ve never understood those parents who just let their kids do whatever they want. I wonder why they do. Could it be due to guilt? Or just not caring? I mean, in the last experience I had in dealing with a child with no boundaries, the parents had split up when she was 3 years-old. She is now 16 and for most of her life, neither of her parents really ever said “no.” Anything she wanted, no matter the cost or the extreme, was given to her. There was never enough discipline to have her consistently partake in household responsibilities. She never really had a bedtime, and she really didn’t respect her parents because she was always given what she wanted.
When I think about this, I wonder if the parents just thought it would be easier to do it themselves, rather than teach the child how to, then have to deal with the frustration of the learning process. (In other words, the frustration of getting it wrong, having to re-teach, getting it wrong again, having to re-teach, etc.) Or, perhaps they felt guilty over divorcing and separating the family, so they thought it would be easier to make sure she was “loved,” so they just took care of everything for her. Maybe, they didn’t think she was capable of doing it right. Who knows…what I DO know, is there are consequences to raising children with no boundaries, and I’ve witnessed it.
Then we have the opposite extreme: The parents who refuse to let their children to anything. There is really no way this is healthy either. There has to be a balance. Children function best when there are boundaries. Studies have shown this over and over. One of the cool things about McGruff Safeguard is that it allows you to give a certain amount of freedom, but with boundaries. With the service updating you on any peculiar behavior, you can rest assured knowing you will be aware of potentially dangerous or sneaky activity.
Just as the pro-basketball players have to watch their feet while playing the game to be sure they don’t step out of bounds, we need to do the same for our kids. Allow Mcgruff Safeguard to help referee your kids’ computer behavior today. Help us help you keep your children safe online.
Labels: basketball, boundaries, Indiana Pacers, McGruff Safeguard
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 6:56 AM Link to this Article
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager, even before my teen years, I had a thing against authority. When my parents told me not to do something, or I “couldn’t” do something, there was some kind of instinct in me that just wanted to test the water. I think this type of thinking will never go away for most teens. Especially when they are really trying to find out who they are and how their voice sounds. I never wanted to be “controlled.” A recent study, conducted by researchers at Örebro University in Sweden, done in the US, looks at how adolescents view and react to parental control. This study appears in the November/December 2009 issue of the journal of Child Development, and this is what it said:
The study has found that young people feel differently about two types of
parental control, generally viewing a type of control that's thought to be
better for their development more positively. However, when parents are very
controlling, young people no longer make this distinction and view both types of
parental control negatively.
Scholars tell us that parental control falls into two categories: behavioral control (when parents help their children regulate themselves and feel competent by providing supervision, setting limits, and establishing rules)and psychological control (when parents are manipulative in their behavior, often resulting in feelings of guilt, rejection, or not being loved). It's thought that behavioral control is better for youngsters'
But the study, which asked 67 American children (7th and 8th graders, as well as 10th and 11th graders) to respond to hypothetical scenarios involving both kinds of control, found that the youths put a negative spin on both types of control when the parents in the scenarios exercised a lot of control. Specifically, when parents showed moderate levels of control, they saw psychological control more negatively than behavioral control, but when parents were very controlling, they viewed both types of control negatively.
Specifically, the youths interpreted high levels of control as intrusive and as indicating that they mattered less as individuals. Intrusiveness is a hallmark of psychological control, according to the researchers, and both high levels of psychological control and feeling that you don't matter have been linked to poorer adjustment.
"Under some conditions, such as when personal choice is restricted, adolescents view
behavioral control as negatively as psychological control," according to the
researchers. "Such negative interpretations may mean that adolescents would
respond as poorly to highly restrictive behavioral control as they do to
Given the results of this study, it would appear that freedom of choice helps kids view behavioral control in a better light. McGruff SafeGuard lets them have all the choice in the world and you can rest assured knowing that someone other than you can monitor their online behavior. McGruff Safeguard keeps you in the know, so you can then focus on building the relationship rather than tearing down walls. What are your thoughts?
Labels: McGruff Safeguard, parental control
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 9:44 AM Link to this Article
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Growing up today is nothing like it used to be for me, for my parents, or for their parents. It’s a whole different ball game, right? But is it really? Or is the big difference the changes in technology? Or is it the difference in what we consider “acceptable” in today’s society? I wonder this as I write this post. I am going to share a True Story from one of our parents who has been using McGruff Safeguard to monitor her teenager. One of the words she uses to describe culture is “climate.” I really like that word, because maybe the issues haven’t changed. Maybe it’s just a climate that we’ve not had to adapt to as our kids have. Here’s her story:
"I’m not going to drop you in your tracks with stories of how McGruff Safeguard
saved my child from this or that. But I did want to take a second to tell
you that in today's world, my children are growing up in a different climate
than I did. Everyone can pretty much put their finger on that, but it
really makes parenting hard when you don't realize how different it is.
Here, I think I'm talking to her about what I need to be talking to her about and that
I'm parenting in the right way. However, what I found after installing it,
were clues on things that actually were affecting her. I could see I had a
sullen and moody pre-teen/teenager on my hands, but for the life of me, I
couldn't drag the reasons out of her. However, in the past few months, by
just pursuing her conversations and making my own attempts to limit my
"eavesdropping", I have picked up clues to things I needed to be aware of.
I have been able to steer conversations into areas we hadn't yet touched and get
her to actually open up more. I know that it was okay for her to talk to
me. I honestly believe she just didn't know who to broach some
subjects. I now see a happier child and I feel like I made the right
choice. Maybe someday I will have a “drop you in your tracks story.”
I hope not. However, I feel much safer in knowing that I don't have to sit
idly by and watch it happen."
I think this story is brilliant. We hope you can sleep better at night knowing you are aware of what is truly going on inside your child/teen’s world. Maybe we just forget to remember what it’s like to be a teenager since we’re all grown up. I truly think that we often forget in many cases, that understanding is a matter of communication in so many ways. Teens haven’t really learned to communicate that well. This could be out of fear of how we’ll react or fear that we may not understand. I also think we fear how we’ll react. (Where’s the easy button?)
We hope that you’ll be able to use this story and McGruff Safeguard, to understand that it’s all about understanding where your kids and teens are, so you’ll be able to communicate better with them.
What are your thoughts?
Labels: McGruff Safeguard, online parenting, True Stories
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 9:18 AM Link to this Article
It DOES Take A Village
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Last night, I was watching an episode of Lie To Me with actor, Tim Roth. In this episode, a video was made by a girl that was being bullied by her classmates. What made things tricky was that the bullying was encouraged by the gym teacher that this girl trusted. The "trusted teacher" was provoking her classmates to bully her. The video that was made expressed violence toward others, however, the violence was actually what she wished upon herself. She then attempted suicide. In the end, they caught the suicide attempt in time. She survived and worked up the courage to confront the students as well as the teacher.
I bring this example to you because this happens more often than we think. A few weeks back, we posted a video on the intensity of cyberbullying. Here are some mid-blowing statistics on this issue that we wanted to bring to you in regard to technology that folks are using today in order to hurt other people.
• According to the National Crime Prevention Center, more than 40 percent of all teenagers with Internet access have reported being bullied online during the past year.
• Girls are more likely than boys to be the target of cyber-bullying. Also, there is a direct correlation to the amount of time girls spend online and the likelihood that they will be bullied.
• The National Crime Prevention Center study found that only 10 percent of those kids who were bullied told their parents about the incident, and that a mere 18 percent of the cases were reported to a local or national law enforcement agency.
• According to a recent study, 58 percent of fourth- through eighth-graders reported having mean or cruel things said to them online. 53 percent said they have said mean or hurtful things to others while online. 42 percent of those studied said that they had been “bullied online,” but almost 60 percent have never told their parents about the incident.
• Cell phone cameras and digital cameras are a growing problem in the cyber-bullying world. A recent survey found that 10 percent of 770 young people surveyed were made to feel “threatened, embarrassed or uncomfortable” by a photo taken of them using a cell-phone camera.
This is alarming. Imagine your child being the target of intentional cruelty. And the sad part is that often, kids don’t want to tell anyone. Usually out of fear or embarrassment. As a result, they are dealing with these huge issues that kids really shouldn’t have to deal with.
Going back to the episode of Lie To Me, the popular girl who was doing the bullying didn’t really want to do it. She felt pressured by her peers and by a teacher whom she looked up to. This leads me to believe that WE can help influence our kids through conversation, IF we know what is actually happening in their lives. McGruff Safeguard is a key way to monitor your kids, whether they are the victim, or the bully. You can be a part of the solution. As the old saying says, “It takes a village” to raise a child. Help us help you keep your children safe.
photo credit to mikebogdanski.com
Labels: bullying, cyberbulling, Lie To Me, McGruff Safeguard, Tim Roth, two-sided conversation
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 11:03 AM Link to this Article
Sneaking Out-True Stories
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I have to say that I had to laugh out loud (lol) when I received this story. Not because it was funny, but because I could totally relate on both the child and the parent end. I was a very rebellious teenager. If my parents told me I COULDN’T do something, I would show them that I could. For me, it was an independent power struggle. I felt like I had to somehow prove I was capable of feeling life out and making my own decisions. There are lots of teens out there who feel the same way. Even if they don’t necessarily act out as I did, they are all searching for their own identity. Sneaking out is one way I tried to find that. Other kids are up to the same deeds as well. The following is one parent’s story of how McGruff Safeguard was used in order to interfere with the pattern of sneaking out:
“I have a teenage child who liked to sneak out at night when everyone was asleep. Since I kept close tabs on the phone usage his only way of "planning" these outings with his friends was in chat online. The service has enabled me to interfere with his sneaking out. Needless to say, he has no idea how I find out and has nearly stopped all attempts of getting out at night.”
Speaking from experience, this mother is brave and needs to be applauded for taking a stand. If you have to sneak out in order to do something, usually, what kids are doing is probably not something they should be. When I snuck out, it was ordinarily to be with people my parents didn’t want me to be with, and there were often times drugs and alcohol was involved. Had my parents had McGruff Safeguard
as a service back when I was a teenager making stupid decisions, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into some of the trouble that I did.
Parents, the world is a scary place. There are more dangers out there now, than there was before. We want to help you stop this activity BEFORE it happens. So, whether you are a parent who monitors your teenager because they sneak out, or whether you are just looking to know what is truly going on in your teens life, McGruff Safeguard
can monitor it all. Help us help you keep your family safe online.
Labels: McGruff Safeguard, rebellion, sneaking out, True Stories
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 11:52 AM Link to this Article
True Story: A Parent's Take on Privacy
Friday, October 23, 2009
At McGruff Safeguard, we truly enjoy hearing from the parents and families who use the software program. The following story is from one of the parents. What I liked personally liked about this was the mother’s stance on privacy. We’ll go into this a bit more after you see what she wrote:
“I love being able to read about what is going on with the day to day activities of my 13-year old. The naive parents think that it is so invasive and that you don't trust your child or are not giving them privacy. At 13 they don't deserve privacy. The best thing about the program is simply being able to direct your conversations with your child about what is going on and having an intelligent two-sided conversation about topics of concern. All of this is important to do before it is too late.”
This was the premise McGruff Safeguard was created under: two-sided conversation. I’ve seen the extremes…parents who give their teens way too much freedom, and those who keep their kids on a pretty tight rope. Both can be detrimental. I think one of the biggest challenges parents have is learning how to find and then maintain moderation. However, growing up is tough
There are many parents out there that indeed feel as though they are invading their child’s privacy. It’s really not if you think about it. It’s actually making sure they don’t make careless decisions. It’s about their safety. It’s about their future. McGruff Safeguard wants to help you monitor your child so you can have two-sided conversation. We love your feedback. Please keep it coming.
Labels: McGruff Safeguard, privacy, two-sided conversation
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 7:05 AM Link to this Article
Safe Internet Alliance Panel - Confronting Internet Risks Today
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Safe Internet Alliance is hosting a panel discussion today (in about 15 minutes, actually) called the "Framework for a Safe Internet." The conference will host a veritable who's who of Internet moguls--representing giants like Yahoo, Verizon, Microsoft, and AOL--in a series of panels each focused on maintaining a safe Internet for ourselves and our children. Marty Schultz, Chief Safety Officer at McGruff SafeGuard, is also preparing to share today on a panel about confronting Internet risks today. I thought I'd share with our readers a sneak peak at the discussion to ensue in a few hours.
The bottom line: the world is a dangerous place. Ergo, the Internet is a dangerous place. It's simple logic. Unfortunately, however, it's not always so simple to see. The dangers in this world that we as parents grew up with are still there--everything from scraped knees to busy streets, and even ill-willed perpetrators and pedophiles. So, as your child rests comfortably in a desk chair staring at a computer, isn't he or she protected? No.
Here is the mental shift we as parents must make: logging on is tantamount to heading out. Your child, though physically present in your home, is socially traveling the world and encountering a host of new, and also not-so-new dangers. The risks have changed, but the principal is unchanged: the world is dangerous. We must protect our children!
But don't the ISP's, social network policies, and federal regulations keep the internet relatively safe for my kid? They try. But, at a park near a busy street, do you trust the town's police force to keep your kid from darting into traffic? No. They post signs, "children at play," and the like--but ultimately, the role of protecting the next generation falls squarely on the parents.
The only tried-and-true method for keeping kids safe is for parents to accept their responsibility to know what their kids are doing. The only way to do this online is for parents to know not just where their children go online, but what they do when they get there, what they talk about, and to whom they talk. If your child is at the park, that seems safe enough. But if they're over by the bushes talking to the shadowy figure with an eerie look to him--you just might want to know that. You just might need to step in and protect your innocent child from the dangers he or she might not yet understand.
At McGruff SafeGuard, protecting children online is our first objective. If it means speaking at a thousand panels just like today's, we'll be there. We also want to empower every parent to do their part. Learn about our free internet monitoring tool and consider downloading it today.
Labels: internet safety, McGruff Safeguard, monitoring, online parenting, Safe Internet Alliance
posted by Nick Carter at 5:43 AM Link to this Article