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Online predators: how to respond to manipulation?

What do you see when you receive a message from an online predator? Can children learn to expose such abuses? And how should they react? Learn to recognise some of the common techniques used by online predators, and discuss with your child the right warning signs and reactions. Use this article as a prevention tool and work with your child to ensure the safety of their online experience.


"Hi. You're very pretty. How are you? Are you bored? Me too. Can you send me pictures of yourself? You want to talk about boys? Have you ever kissed someone? ”

What is suspected in all this?

  1. Immediately compress the child

  2. Asking for inappropriate details

  3. Requesting photos

How should your child react?

It is common for predators to compliment the child to feel special and valued. This does not mean that all compliments are a form of manipulation, but your child should certainly be careful if compliments appear too early and too frequently.

As far as controversial topics are concerned, your child should know that it is natural to be somewhat intrigued, but starting this kind of conversation with strangers almost always leads to risky or uncomfortable scenarios. Encourage your child to be careful when online, take screenshots when they receive inappropriate messages, and end any conversation that becomes embarrassing.

Finally, it is always risky to send photos to strangers. Once your child has sent a picture of him, he no longer has full control of the situation. Predators can use sensitive information or photos to put pressure on the child to send more, and threaten to distribute these photos online or to his or her parents.

Encourage your child not to allow themselves to be made and to be forced to make bad decisions. Give him the means to end the conversation and tell you about his problems. You must try to stay open and avoid clear judgments so that your child feels that he or she can still talk to you, even if he or she has made a mistake.

Try to reduce the risks

Instead of simply banning your child from doing something, and risking them doing it anyway without ever talking to you about it, try a risk-reduction approach.

How do I do it?

Risk reduction is about encouraging your child to avoid taking the riskiest route. Explain to your child that there are three levels of safety when sending photos. It is much more risky to send a photo showing his face and signs of identification than to send an anonymous photo, without his face or other signs of identification. If the potential predator chooses the second option, it has nothing to put pressure on your child. But at the end of the day, the safest option is, of course, not to send pictures at all.


"Hello, are you already back from school?" I hate school. Staying at home is better. Are you alone at home? Mom is still working late? So... we only have a few minutes to talk? Let's make the most of it. ”

What is suspected in all this?

  1. Understanding the environment

  2. Knowing the family situation

  3. Ensure that it (predator) is not detected

How should your child react?

First of all, your child should know that not all people who claim to identify with his or her situation, for example by saying, “I, too, hate school,” are not necessarily trustworthy people. Predators can draw a parallel and affinity as a means of opening the door to dialogue and enter your child’s culture without causing suspicion.

Another warning is that a stranger asks too many questions about your child’s family situation. Tell your child that there is no harm in sharing certain information, but that going into detail can lead to problems. Try to use concrete examples when explaining the risks. In the past, for example, people have used social media to assess the situation of different households in order to rob them in a future.

But in general, the predator seeks to determine the situation in order to continue talking to the child without being caught. When your child says, "My parents are at home," what's his friend's reaction? If he suddenly ends the conversation and disappears, your child should view this as a wake-up call and a sign that friendship must end.


"I really like talking to you. Are you sure you're only 12 years old? You're so mature for your age. Hey, that's going to be our little secret. It's exciting, isn't it? ”

What is suspected in all this?

  1. Inflating the child's maturity

  2. Isolating the child of his parents

  3. Ensure that the child feels “chosen”

  4. Encouraging the child to keep secrets

How should your child react?

Pointing out to a child that he or she is mature“mature” is often the first step in addressing topics and issues that are equally mature. Although children may regard this as a grand compliment, they should know that they should not feel compelled to address inconvenient subjects, especially if their friend suggests that they would not look “mature” if they refused to continue the conversation.

Asking a child to keep a secret conversation is another important wake-up call, but for children, secrets are often a way to test or strengthen their friendships, so they may not regard this demand as an alarm bell.

If it is acceptable to keep a small secret, such as the crush given by a classmate or comrades, why should they be asked to keep all their friendship secret? Your child should be aware that it is not necessary to hide a relationship, except in cases of malicious intent. Do your best to maintain a healthy and open relationship with your child, so that they are less likely to have secrets for you and fall into the trap of a predator trying to isolate it from others.


"Your parents are still bickering?" I'm sorry. Don't worry about your mother, she's stupid anyway. At least we can talk to each other. I'll always be there for you. ”

What is suspected in all this?

  1. Trying to make the child feel that he or she (the predator) is the only one who really understands it.

  2. Use conflicts at home to isolate the child from his or her parents or other reliable persons in his or her life

How should your child react?

Show your child what a healthy relationship should look like, ideally by having a healthy relationship with them and encouraging them to build friendships with their peers. If your child has reliable friends and a sympathetic family, with relatives and siblings, but also with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, they will be less likely to let a predator isolate it from anyone who can help them if needed. Also let your child know that despite the occasional conflicts, which occur in almost all families and even in all friendships, you love him or her and that he or she can count on you.


"Do you want ice cream?" I can pick you up from school if you tell me where she is. Come on, you're big enough to make your own decisions. ”

What is suspected in all this?

  1. Attempt to collect sensitive information on the child's whereabouts

  2. Encouraging the child to act above his or her age

  3. Organizing a secret meeting without the knowledge of your parents

How should your child react?

Talk to your child about private, semi-private and public data. For example, he should only give the name of their school to people in whom he has full confidence.

What about the rencontremeeting? It is very likely that the predator will try to meet your child alone. It may even try to make people believe that this is a challenge that your child needs to take on for bravery or autonomy. But if your child really wants to meet his or her new friend online, he or she should always inform you and be accompanied by another person. It may be a friend, brother or sister or relative, depending on age. Nor should he travel to places he or she knows or places that tend to be deserted. Finally, your child should remember that there is nothing wrong with having limits and that if he or she feels uncomfortable, he or she has the right at any time to distance himself or herself and above all from asking for help.


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