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March On Crime Week Three - Child and Cyber Safety

March 17, 2006 -- Week three (March 18-24) of HPD March On Crime focuses on Child Safety and Cyber Safety. Children are faced with dangers from almost everywhere. The Houston Police Department Public Affairs, Community Services Unit offers some basic strategies that will keep them out of harms way.


While at Home:
Keep doors and windows locked at all times. If your kids are left home alone remind them to never acknowledge it. If strangers come to the front or back door and refuse to leave they should call 9-1-1. Post important phones numbers near all phones in case of emergencies. If your children are latch key kids, have them check in with parents or neighbors once they get home and never enter a house when you find the door or window open.

While at School:
Develop a safe route to and from school and stick to it. Never take short cuts through fields, construction sites, wooded areas, or dark isolated streets or alleys. Familiarize your child with the neighborhood you live in. Always walk to and from school with a parent or friends. There is safety in numbers. Be alert and aware of people around you. Teach your child to report all suspicious behavior. Never hitchhike.

Child predators look for children demonstrating specific traits and habits. Parents must take the offensive in understanding what predators look for in choosing a child. Many of these predators use the internet as a means to sexually exploit children. Some of these predators seduce children by using attention, kindness and even gifts.


Signs of Online Risk:
Be aware of the amount of time your child spends on the internet, especially at night. Many children fall victim to computer sex-offenders who spend large amounts of time online. Frequently check your child's e-mail files for pornography. Sex offenders often use porn to show the child that sex between children and adults is normal. Many sex offenders may even call their victim and try to engage in phone sex with their victim. Be cautious if your child receives gifts or mail from people that you don't know. And be concerned if your child turns the computer monitor off or changes the screen on the monitor when you enter the room. Some children develop codes to trick parents. Be aware of who your child spends time with and chats with online.

Guideline for Parents:
Make a family rule never to give out identifying information such as home address, school name or telephone number on any online chat room or bulletin board. Get to know the internet and website services your child uses. Remember that people online may not be who they say they are.

AW/ MES 3-17-06
MOC-week 3

For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.