Submitted by Delaine Moore
It was my greatest fear when I began online dating: that a child predator would feign interest in me in order to get to my kids. And today, though I’m much more comfortable with this medium, AND, I’ve still never introduced a man to my children, it’s always at the back of my mind.
According to Joe Tracy, Publisher of Online Dating Magazine which is a consumer watchdog for online daters, “there are some sexual predators and sex offenders who specifically use online dating services to target single parents in order to get to their kids. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen.”
Paul Falzone, CEO of Together Dating, says that for most of the 40 million people using dating sites, a disastrous 15 minutes over coffee at Starbucks is the worst they will suffer. Falzone’s dating site performs background checks on all members and results in 10% of applicants being rejected.
But Dr. James Houran, a spokesperson and feature columnist at Online Dating Magazine, says we should never rely on dating sites that say they screen out predators. It is our responsibility to protect our and our family’s safety.
“The best protection is to use your head in matters of the heart,” says Houran. “Do not get so caught up in the excitement of online dating that you are not constantly alert. Instead, assume everyone online is a potential predator.”
The following online tips to single parents are recommended by Online Dating Magazine:
1) Never post photos of your children in your profile or anywhere online.
2) Don’t talk about your children in your profile.
3) Don’t mention what gender your children are.
4) If you’re dating someone, wait several months – until you are more serious – before introducing your date to your children.
5) Run a background and sex offender check on the person you’re dating before introducing them to your children.
Please refer to www.saferonlinedating.org to view lists of background check websites by state.