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The term sexual predator is used pejoratively to describe a person seen as obtaining or trying to obtain sexual contact with another person in a metaphorically predatory manner.

There are 50,000 sexual predators surfing the net at any time, according to London police estimates. Studies have shown that one in five youngsters have been solicited on the Net for sex. Paedophiles have been known to find new ways to evade detection and capture. The recent sentencing of three paedophiles who were convicted of planning the rape of two schoolgirls over chat rooms have put these criminals on even higher alert, though it created a legal precedent for conviction before the crime was actually carried out and before the children came to any harm.

Children love secret codes and acronyms just to thwart parental knowledge. When the trust of these youngsters has been secured, sexual predators can get them to do things which ultimately compromise their safety without their parents’ knowledge. Some codes include MOS (Mum Over Shoulder), LMIRL (Let’s Meet in Real Life), and NIFOC (Naked in Front of Computer). The list of codes has been compiled by an anti-grooming software company In Loco Parentis. If you don’t understand the codes your children are using, you may not know the danger they are in or prevent them from becoming potential victims. Parents who expect to see something obvious are underestimating the sophistication of their children as well as the paedophiles. In Loco Parentis software also automatically sends an email to a parent or shuts down the computer when it detects a codeword from the banned list.

Child safety campaigner, Sara Payne, gives her thumbs up for these kinds of products in the market. Parents need all the help they can get in light of the increasing opportunities provided by the Internet to commit crime. Her eight-year-old daughter was murdered in 2000 by a sex offender. Payne remarks: “No parent wants to hold their children back, or stop them learning and enjoying what the Internet has to offer. But their safety should remain our number one concern.”