Teenagers are often the target of online predators, whether it be on chat rooms, online gaming or facebook.
The BBC documentary about the unfortunate death of Breck Bednar, drew me towards investigating how easy it may be to manipulate a teenager, and to make them trust you.
I began to investigate how these people get into teenagers heads, and why the teens are so open to these people. Often they take on a teen alias, and begin to explore different teen issues with them, this is how they gain their trust. A main focus of many of these predators is the ‘teen-parent’ relationship, if they sense some form of friction in this relationship they will play on it massively. Turning the teen against their parents by telling them that they are ‘unfair’ people and that they do not need them. By closing down this relationship, they are also shutting down any communication the teen may have with their parent, for example if this online friend tries to become sexual with them, the teen will now feel as though there is no one who wants to hear their issues. The predator may also try to isolate the teen from friends and other members of the family too, so the only person they feel they have is said predator.
The teen is obviously now feeling depressed, as they have no one to speak to. This is when the predator begins to suggest they meet, or get away from it all together. Now that the trust of the teen is solely in this person, it seems like the only logical thing to do.
These things can be done pretty quickly depending on the self-confidence and family background of the teenager, it can be done within weeks or maybe it could take years. But the sad truth is, this is happening all the time, and without much complication.
After the Bednar case there is now much more internet safety being taught at schools, and the CIS button has been set up for teens to press on if they ever feel uncomfortable online.