The Internet makes it easy for predators to find and lure victims, especially unsuspecting young people.

Learn more about how they operate so you can watch for warning signs and steer your kids clear of risky behavior.
Where Predators Look
Adults who want to exploit children linger in chat rooms. They search social networking sites and other interactive websites. If a young person's chat room conversations, online profile or blog entries suggest an interest in sex or other risky behaviors, a predator may believe they have located a good candidate for victimization.

“Grooming” a victim takes a few weeks or months. It ends with an attempt to set up a face-to-face meeting with the child for sex.

Predators Can Be Charming
They know what to say and do to gain a child's trust, and they exploit their victim's inexperience. Some adults who want to exploit children use the anonymity of the Internet to lie about their age, but most do not. A study ( found that most children who agree to meet with an adult do so willingly and are not tricked or coerced.

Predators Can Be Anyone
Experts warn that the stereotype of a child predator - a suspicious looking stranger in a trench coat - is inaccurate. Neither you nor your children can tell predators by the way they look, what kind of job they have or where they live.
Predators Want Information
Some clear do and don’t rules will help kids and adults.

* DON'T give out personal information such as your address, telephone number, your name, parent's name, school, classmates, school schedule, passwords, etc.
* DON'T send or post pictures online without parental permission.
* DON'T believe everything you read or someone tells you online.
* DON'T answer any message that is mean or that makes you feel scared, uncomfortable or confused.
* DON'T keep new online buddies secret from your parents.
* DON'T communicate with anyone that you don't know in person and that your parents haven't approved.
* And most importantly, DON'T agree to meet with someone you've met online.

* DO ask permission from your parents before you download or copy information or programs from the Internet. They may contain viruses or spyware.
* DO get your parent's permission before you talk online to anyone you don't personally know.
* DO tell your parents if you're contacted by someone you don't know.
* DO notify your parents if you receive or come across anything online that makes you feel scared, uncomfortable or confused.
Information provided by the The North Carolina Department of Justice: