The recent news of the arrest of former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter for allegedly exchanging explicit online messages with a police officer who was pretending to be a 15-year-old girl concerned me. CNN.com posted a graphic explanation of the alleged criminal activity. That article angered me as I thought about the possibility of my own daughter being victimized in that manner through no fault or intent of her own.
To add to my angst, about a week ago after Sunday evening service while waiting for my family, I chatted with the mother of one of the teenage girls in our youth group. She expressed frustration over her lack of computer knowledge and her inability to protect her children from internet predators.
The following morning, I sent an email to our Senior Pastor and the Youth Pastor asking if I could teach a class to any of the parents in our congregation who want to learn more about protecting their children on the internet. The senior Pastor responded within an hour saying it is a fantastic idea and he would get with the youth Pastor to schedule it.
This is the first of a series of posts sharing what I’ll be teaching to the parents in our church. As parents, we have a responsibility to guard our children’s hearts. They’re going to learn soon enough about our unfriendly world. While they are under our stewardship, we must do everything within our power to help them maintain their integrity, purity and innocence. It’s not an easy task when temptation can be found on almost every corner of the internet.
Our kids are going to make their own mistakes. We will never be able to prevent them from being victims of their own bad judgment and poor choices. At best we can coach and counsel them to help them over the rough patches. And if we strive hard enough, those rough patches can be relatively minor and may even turn into some of their greatest lessons in life.
Over the next few days, I’ll share with you the steps we have taken in our home to protect our family. As parents, we’re not immune to temptation either. Protection applies to us as well. Some of you may not agree with our approach and that’s okay. I won’t be offended as long as we agree to disagree. We’re all unique and as my beautiful wife says, “We all cross our T’s and dot our I’s differently.” I’ll talk about parental control tools, creating a family internet covenant and how to restrict access by setting a security policy through your router.
I appreciate all feedback and if you have further suggestions or want to share some technique or tool you use to protect your family, please post them in the comments for all to see.