David Schwimmer’s “Trust” Profiles the Nightmare Scenario for Parents

A new film directed by David Schwimmer portrays the dangerous scenario of young girls getting sucked into an on-line relationship with an internet predator.

In “Trust” the predator “grooms” his 14-year-old victim Annie, played by Liana Liebrato, into a trusting on-line romance with Charlie, a boy she believes is 16, but who is actually a man in his 40s.

Her parents, portrayed by Academy Award® nominees Catherine Keener and Clive Owen, are horrified to discover the relationship. After the grooming process, where a predator builds trust and a romantic infatuation from his victim, many times, the predator and prey meet multiple times. The film details this process with Annie and Charlie and the subsequent destruction of Annie’s family.

Schwimmer, who is known most famously for his role as Ross on Friends, told Bill O’Reilly on The O’Reilly Factor last night that he has been involved with the Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica, California for over 14 years. He also mentions in a recent New York Times article that he has known many victims and seen the effects so he wanted to do something to help. Although he has no children currently, he told O’Reilly he and his wife are expecting a child soon.

The movie is rated R for mature content and brief nudity and language. It was filmed in Michigan and, while fictional, was painstakingly accurate to the point of having every line of the script approved by counselors. Schwimmer and the other directors actually sat with FBI agents who were live chatting with predators to make the script as realistic as possible. To see a trailer, please go here.

Parenthood’s 12 Tips for Parents and Facebook

These points are from a fabulous article that appeared on Parenthood recently that is very well-sourced and brings up some excellent points. Please read that article too.

Kids need help understanding life on-line. Sometimes they may think they are being funny or horsing around but their actions can have long-term effects including denial of college admissions and possibly criminal investigations. We owe it to our kids to help them create their virtual identity in the best possible way.

According to the Parenthood article, 90% of ninth graders have a Facebook page and kids as young as fourth grade are lying about their age to create a profile. We need to keep an eye on what’s going on. Here are a dozen tips to help:

  • Get on Facebook if you aren’t already so you can understand the intricacies – privacy settings, how to tag pictures, how to post your activity and photos, etc.
  • Make your kids wait until they are minimally 13 and more appropriately 16 when their maturity level is strong enough that they can understand the ramifications of their actions better.
  • You MUST know your child’s user name and password. The article stresses that this is an absolute must. They should also know you will be checking in on them periodically.
  • Request that your child “friend” you. If you have a strong relationship, this probably won’t be an issue.
  • Ask your child to only friend people he or she actually knows. Many kids on Facebook have thousands of friends they’ve never met which sets them up for predators to find them.
  • Suggest your child not friend their teachers. This puts teachers in an awkward spot if they see something questionable or inappropriate on a Facebook page.
  • Resist the urge to comment on your child’s status. Always nosing into the conversation doesn’t allow you to really watch what’s going on.
  • Discuss things off-line if you have questions or would like to understand something better. Don’t have a virtual fight everyone can see.
  • Teach your kids about privacy and the importance of that. Make sure they understand the dangers of posting phone numbers, addresses and activities like going on vacation. Also, let them know some of the on-line games are spyware and adware traps that can harm their computers.
  • Help your child understand the on-line reputation he or she is creating. College admissions offices routinely check Facebook for undesirable activities such as drunk photos. Help your child understand that even if he or she doesn’t post the photos, others can and that becomes searchable.
  • Make sure your children understand you are an ally. If they are feeling troubled or being bullied, they should know they can come to you and you will help them, not judge them.
  • Know that Facebook does have good points. It can help with making plans and communicate about schoolwork.  It can help shy kids feel better about communicating. Know that it can be good for kids.

Facebook Sharing Your Kids’ and Your Address and Phone Number with Strangers?

A quiet announcement late last month has left the future of Facebook in question. While it has become ubiquitous in many people’s daily behavior, once your personal information is let go to anyone who asks, it might be time to start thinking about how much you really like your Facebook page.

According to a recent article posted on the Huffington Post, Representatives Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) have expressed concern over the policy but Facebook has confirmed that it will allow 3rd parties to request to access users’ addresses and phone numbers.

While Facebook’s Marne Levine, vice president of global public policy admits they are considering restricting this data sharing to only users who are 18 and over, it does not appear that this was part of the most recent policy change.

“We expect that, once the feature is re-enabled, Facebook will again permit users to authorize applications to obtain their contact information,” Levine is quoted as saying in the Huffington Post article.

Many say the changes mark two significant risks. One is that people’s information can potentially be accessed by scammers and spammers. The second is the underlying advocacy of Facebook for users to share their information they were once able to keep close control of. This is a sea change in data privacy that many are not necessarily ready for.

The darker side of this is your kids – are you certain you know what they are posting out there? Their phone number? Your address? It’s definitely worth taking a look – this can be a great learning experience for them to have the conversation about privacy, what to reveal and how to stay safe on-line.

Enough is Enough Helps Parents Protect Their Kids from Predators

Enough is Enough (EIE) is one of the oldest internet safety websites. It’s been around since 1994 to help make the internet safer for children and their parents. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the website is beautifully simple: www.enough.org.

The organization was founded by Dee Jepsen, wife of Roger Jepsen a former Senator from Iowa. She now serves as the organization’s President Emeritus.

EIE takes a three-pronged approach to their mission of helping:

  • Raise public awareness of the threat of illegal pornography and sexual predation on the Internet in order to empower and equip parents and other child caregivers to implement safety measures.
  • Encourage the technology industry to implement viable technological solutions and family-friendly corporate policy to reduce this threat.
  • Promote legal solutions by calling for aggressive enforcement of existing laws and enactment of new laws to stop the sexual exploitation and victimization of children using the Internet.

While they wish to preserve the right to Freedom of Speech, they also want to create a safe place where children can preserve their innocence a little longer. With the pervasiveness of on-line pornography and sexual predators, the internet is unsafe territory for young eyes. EIE is trying to keep this world a little safer.

They offer a special program called the Internet Safety 101SM Program (www.internetsafety101.org).  “This state-of-the-art, multi-media program is designed to educate, equip, and empower parents, educators and other caring adults with the knowledge and resources they need to protect children online,” according to their website.  The program includes access to the Internet Safety 101SM Web site, a 4-part DVD series, workbook and additional resources.

As EIE President Donna Rice Hughes says, many parents go through the program and say, “I had no idea.” It is amazing how we think we are keeping our children safe but there are so many ways for them to be threatened or harmed. EIE travels the country giving presentations to PTA groups, schools and other organizations on the threats and solutions for parents and children while on the internet.

EIE has also launched a faith-based initiative to help those who are trying to recover from pornography addiction, sexual addiction and victimization. In addition, the site offers many resources and tips. Please check them out at www.enough.org.