Lawsuits for Injuries to Children: What You Should Know

child injuryOne of the most frightening moments for any parent is to learn that his or her child has been injured in an accident.  The overwhelming hope is that the injury is minor and that the child is not in pain.  Unfortunately, there are occasions where the injury to the child is serious, requiring medical attention, surgery, and in some cases, long-term care.  The medical expenses can become significant, causing financial stress on the entire family.  However, in cases where the child’s injury was the result of another person’s negligence such as in a car accident or where there was a medical mistake, the child may be able to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit.  However, when a child is the victim, there are special rules that must be considered.

Statute of Limitations

While the statute of limitations varies from state to state, in general a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within 1-3 years of the date of the injury or the date that the victim should have known about the injury.  For example, in Georgia a negligence lawsuit must be brought within 2 years from the date of the injury or death.  Georgia actions for medical malpractice also have a statute of limitations of 2 years.  The rule, however, is usually different when a child is the victim.  Children are considered incapacitated.  Thus, the limitations period is tolled, or put on hold.  In some cases it is tolled until the victim is no longer under an incapacity.  This usually means that the statute does not begin to run until the child turns 18.

The Plaintiff in the Lawsuit

Even though the statute of limitations for a child victim is tolled until the child reaches majority, the child does not have to wait  to file a personal injury lawsuit.  However, until the child reaches majority, he or she would not be permitted to file the lawsuit in his or her own name.  Instead, someone else, such as a parent, would have to file the lawsuit on the child’s behalf.  The person filing the lawsuit is referred to as the child’s “next friend.”  Any damages won in such a lawsuit would belong to the child, not the next friend.

Claims for Economic Damages and Non-Economic Damages

A child typically does not pay his or her own medical bills and is not responsible for them.  Parents are responsible for their children’s medical expenses.  Thus, if a child is injured and incurs medical bills, the child cannot sue to recover them.  The parents must.   Because of this, legal action concerning an injured child can be divided into two different claims.  The child’s claim would relate to pain and suffering and any other non-economic losses.  The parents’ claim would be for the medical expenses and other economic losses. The child’s claims and the parent’s claims can be joined together in a single lawsuit, or could be heard separately.  In either case there will be two verdicts, and if the plaintiffs prevail, two monetary awards.  In addition, there would also be two different statutes of limitations in the cases, as one claim belongs to the child and the other to the parents.

Access to Settlement Funds

Judgments awarded to a child are typically held by the court on behalf of the child until the child reaches majority.  Or the funds are placed in a trust for the benefit of the child.  Parents rarely have access to such funds.  However, parents do have ownership of financial awards for claims for economic damages, such as medical expenses.

Do  you think a child’s recovery for pain and suffering in a personal injury case should always be higher than a similarly injured adult, since a child is likely to suffer more pain than an adult and have more difficulty coping with it?

Charged With a Sex Crime: Can I Still See My Kids?

(U.S. Family Law and generally) Being charged with a sex crime will impact every area of your life, including visitation rights with your children. How it impacts your visitation rights will most likely depend on the seriousness of the conviction.
According to the Orlando Criminal Team, a law firm in Florida, being convicted of a sex crime can lead to very serious consequences. This can range from fines to jail time or probation over a long period of time.

In most cases, visitation privileges will be limited to supervised visits with your children. This may mean hanging you with them at the house of your ex-spouse, or visiting them in the presence of a counselor. If your sex crime was considered heinous, your visitation rights may be denied altogether.

Many Different Points To Consider

This is a very broad subject, and many of the points will be based on local ordinances and state-specific laws. It is very hard to give one “over all” answer to this scenario because so many different factors come into play.

For instance, in some states, if the sex offender was convicted of committing an act upon a minor that was outside of the marriage or on an adult, they cannot be denied visitation rights. In other states, visitation rights are automatically suspended with any type of conviction.

In most cases, sex offenders that commit crimes against children less than 14 years of age seem to have the most difficulty in establishing visitation rights with their children. Additionally, those who are convicted under any child pornography laws, even if they never touched a real person, will have a very hard time getting the Court to approve visitation.

Visitation rights may also be changed if an additional offense occurs after the person has been convicted or paroled.

Role Of The Ex-Spouse

The ex-spouse or partner in this relationship may also play a very large role in the decisions of the Court. If the former spouse feels that regardless of what the legal status is of the conviction the other parent poses a threat to the child(ren), the Court will consider their opinions above the convicted offender.

On the other hand, if the former partner believes that the convicted offender does not pose any real harm to the children, the Court will also take this into consideration. One classic example of this is a man who is 44 years old and is convicted of having sex with a 16 year old girl that he believed was 18 at the time. This is considered statutory rape, even though it was under false pretenses and consensual at the time. In the eyes of the Court, he is now a convicted sex offender. However, in the eyes of his ex-spouse, he is just a fool and no danger to her children.

Sex offenders who want to be a part of their children’s life should not give up hope. They will need to seek a defense attorney that is familiar with sex offender cases and approach the Family Court to request that their visitation rights be granted or restored. According to the Orlando Criminal Team, a law firm that specializes in this type of situation, ”sex crimes are aggressively prosecuted.” Those seeking representation should look for an attorney that is equally as aggressive for the best results.

How To Be A Good Parent Even After The Divorce

Being a good parent is hard enough on a good day. However, when you’ve just gone through a divorce, making sure that your kids are doing fine is always much harder. You can be a good parent after a divorce though so doesn’t think that this is an unattainable goal.

When you use your parenting skills in a divorce, you help teach your kids to deal with various challenges, helping them to grow into well-adjusted individuals. If you’re going or have gone through a divorce and are trying to figure out how to be a good parent through it all, use these tips.

Put The Child First:

Many times a divorce is going to be messy and complicated. You and your former spouse may hate each other and have trouble even being in the same room. However, this attitude isn’t going to do any favors for your child. You need to make sure that you’re not focusing on yourself throughout the divorce.

Since it can be a fairly lengthy process, talk to your children openly throughout the entire ordeal and ask how they’re doing. They may not be coping so well. Also, when you begin to figure out custody agreements and other important details that are about the kids, get their input. They may not be very happy about the entire situation, but involving them in the process and showing them that you care, is going to help with the transition.

Remember It’s Not About You:

Well, at least not entirely. Obviously, your divorce is going to be a huge part of your life, but you are an adult. You have increased coping mechanisms as well as a mature perspective that your children lack. If you’re starting to fall into the victim mentality, then make the decision to turn this attitude around.

Accept the fact that even in the worst of marriages, you probably made some mistakes as well. When you get to this point, you’re not only helping yourself, you’re also showing your kids that it’s OK to be wrong sometimes and you should always acknowledge your mistakes.

Look At The Positives:

It’s always hard to see anything positive coming from a divorce, but there are many life lessons that you can gain from going through this process. Similarly, your kids can also gain more experience from you. However, you can’t do this if you simply refuse to deal with the problem at hand. As you go throughout the divorce, take each experience as a life lesson.

Many of them are not going to be easy, but if you pay attention, you will come through this experience and be a wiser and stronger person throughout the rest of your life. Make sure that you talk to your kids throughout the process and mention some of the lessons you’ve learned. They can similarly take your lessons and apply them to their lives and future relationships.

Always Be Respectful:

When a divorce with children happens, it’s likely that both parents will have custody or visitation rights. This is going to be hard to deal with, but you can’t let your own feelings get in the way of your children’s happiness. Working through the challenges of successfully communicating with an ex is a goal, which you’re probably not going to get right the first time.

Try to maintain a respectful relationship with your former spouse. This not only sets a good example for your kids, it also helps to make the entire ordeal so much easier

These are a few of the basic ways to make sure that you continue to be a good parent both through and after a divorce. Divorce is difficult for both parents and their children, so make sure that you pay attention to your kids and continue to make them a priority throughout the entire process. Divorce can be a positive or negative factor in a child’s life depending on how you react to it. If you treat it as a learning experience, it can help to grow the relationship that you have with your children.

However, it does take time and effort, so make sure that you’re being a mindful parent throughout the entire process to make the transition easy for your children.

Literature on Divorce for Older Children

divorce lawApproximately half of marriages, in the United States, end in divorce.  While not every married couple has children, it can be assumed that a large number of children are faced with their parents’ divorce each year.  When parents decide to divorce it is their responsibility, for the well-being of their child, to discuss the divorce with their child.  Many parents seek out additional resources, such as books, to make their discussion a bit easier or to answer questions that may be hard to answer on their own.  There is a plethora of books for younger children, specifically between the ages of 4 – 9, that are specifically written about divorce.  Many of the books are picture books with colorful illustrations concentrating on using simple concepts and a discussion of emotions.  Aside from “self-help” type of books, there are fewer books on divorce available for pre-teen and adolescent children.  While the needs of an older child are different from young children, a book addressing divorce can be helpful to an older reader.

Stereotypically, girls are most often classified as “readers”.  Much of the pre-teen and adolescent fiction and non-fiction literature discussing divorce has female protagonists or themes aimed at young women.  Parents of pre-teen and adolescent boys may need to search a bit more, but there are books with adolescent boys as the protagonists dealing with family issues like divorce.

Homesick, a 2012 release by Kate Klise, is a novel with a young male protagonist, appropriate for readers between 9 and 12 years old.  The main character, Benny, lives with his parents who have separated.  His mother has left the family and his father has hoarding issues.  Many readers may connect with Benny and the pressure and need to be responsible in his crumbling home life.  Reflected in a Kirkus Review, “Benny gets a job at the local radio station to scrape together money to pay the phone bill so he can stay in touch with his mother. She’s planning to get settled and return for him at the end of the school year, but Benny’s dad is spiraling downward fast.”

While Benny’s scenario may seem “too big to be true”, children of divorced parents may relate to Benny’s situation and his feelings.  Sometimes a story, bigger than their own, might make a child feel better about their own situation.

Children, of any age, may benefit from tools, such as literature, when dealing with divorce in their family.  Parents and children can connect through literature and gain a better understanding about divorce.  Literature can remind children, of any age, that divorce is not their fault, not their responsibility, and despite the situation, a parent’s love still remains before, during and after the divorce.

For more information about divorce please visit the website of Charles Ullman, a Cary, NC Divorce Lawyer at divorcelawnc.com.

Florida Same Sex Separations and Collaborative Family Law

Though the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), state DOMAs were not affected by the ruling.  This means that same sex couples cannot get legally married in states, such as Florida, that enacted a DOMA.

This also means that gay and lesbian couples cannot get divorced in many DOMA states and oftentimes do not have any legal remedy to separate.  If the domestic partners did not adopt each other’s children, even if both partners had been considered the parents of the children, then child custody, visitation, and child support laws usually will not apply.  Equitable distribution laws (laws related to division of marital assets and debts) do not apply, so separating property and liabilities can get real messy, real quick.  Further, alimony and spousal maintenance laws do not apply, so a partner who spent years homemaking and taking care of children may suddenly become destitute.  So what are separating same sex couples to do?

Domestic partners who are dissolving their relationship should seriously consider entering into a collaborative family law process.

Collaborative family law is a form of private dispute resolution that allows clients to enter into agreements and achieve results that could never be attained through a court process. Each client retains a separate attorney who advises and counsels the client and helps in the negotiating process.  A neutral facilitator, who is a mental health professional or mediator, helps the clients focus on their interests, such as the welfare of clients’ children, continued relationships with each other’s family members, or financial stability.  If there are substantial assets or debts or a business, a neutral accountant or financial planner will be brought in to educate the parties in finances, help fairly and cost-effectively divide property and liabilities, and, if requested, develop a budget for the clients’ future.

As you can see, collaborative family law is a holistic process that takes into account not only the legal, but also the emotional and financial needs of the clients.

The crux of collaborative family law is that the clients agree at the beginning that they will not seek to resolve their dispute through court battles, but rather they will come to a mutually agreeable settlement through this private process.  The clients, and their attorneys, enter into a participation agreement which disqualifies the attorneys from representing the clients in any contested court action.  This provides a safe space in collaborative meetings because each client knows that the other client’s attorney is not conducting opposition research and is committed solely to helping the clients reach a mutually acceptable agreement.  This allows clients to feel more comfortable offering and listening to potential solutions.

In truth, the disqualification clause has much more of an effect on heterosexual couples who are getting divorced, rather than homosexual couples who are separating.  This is because, as stated above, most DOMA state courts just do not have remedies that would properly address the clients’ concerns, and so attempts to fight it out in court will oftentimes be dismissed.

If you are experiencing a same sex separation, make sure to speak with an attorney who offers collaborative family law, and check to see whether the attorney has received collaborative law training that meets at least the minimum Basic Training standards of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

If you have questions regarding a Tampa Bay collaborative family law process, or you want to learn more about your Florida family law rights, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.

Adam B. Cordover currently serves as Research Chair of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida and Vice President of the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay.  Adam successfully spearheaded an effort of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida to draft an administrative order safeguarding the principles of collaborative family law (just the fourth such administrative order in Florida) and has completed over 40 hours of basic and advanced collaborative family law continuing legal education credit.

 

UK family law and international child abduction

Marriage and divorce are both becoming increasingly international in nature meaning that children often have family origins in different countries. Combined with the fact that air travel has made travelling overseas far simpler, it is therefore unsurprising that the number of children being abducted to overseas jurisdictions has increased in recent years. The idea of your child being taken to another country without your permission is a horrible one but there are laws which can help.

In England and Wales, the law dictates that anyone who takes a child overseas without obtaining prior permission from those with legal custody of the child has committed a criminal offence. The Child Abduction Act 1984 only makes exceptions to this rule if a court order has been granted to take the child out of the country. Once the child is removed from their normal home country it is recognised internationally as abduction.

The consequences

When a child is abducted it causes enormous distress to the child as well as the parent who is left behind of course. Although the child may not initially appear to have been affected, it is likely that they will suffer emotional damage which may only manifest itself later on. For the child, losing contact with their other parent, language, culture and friends can also be very traumatic and can lead to anger issues, nervousness and depression.

The Hague Convention

As the problem of international child abduction grew throughout the 1900s, it became clear that some kind of international convention would be needed in order to tackle the problem. In 1980 the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was established and dictates that abducted children will be returned to their habitual country of residence if they have been taken without permission.

Every signatory state has an authority dedicated to handling correspondence related to international abduction cases and in the UK this is called the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU). Parents who believe that their child has been abducted overseas can apply to the ICACU to get them back under the Hague Convention. So long as the application fulfils the necessary criteria, the ICACU will connect the applicant with a specialist child abduction solicitor. This solicitor will then be able to sort out the following:

• Applying for legal aid [despite the recent cuts to the legal aid budget, legal aid could be available to fund your lawyer’s costs if there has been a history of, or risk of, child abduction outside the UK ]

• Completing various pieces of paperwork and managing correspondence

• Compiling a convincing body of evidence

• Providing representation at court hearings

• Giving instructions to counsel

International child abduction cases are particularly complex due the fact that different jurisdictions are involved. It should also be noted that there are certain situations in which the abductors lawyers may successfully argue that the child should not be returned. For example, lawyers often use article 13 of the convention which dictates that the child need not be returned if doing so would endanger their physical or mental wellbeing to delay cases. This kind of tactic, combined with the fact that many nations have gender or cultural biases often negates the effectiveness of the Hague Convention.

Tim Bishop is senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – family law solicitors with experience of handling international child abduction cases. Click here for more information if your child has been abducted, visit their specialist website at http://www.the-divorce-solicitors.co.uk or call them on 01722 422300.

 

Preparation for a Future in Law

The idea of law school may be an exciting and frightening thought for many soon-to-be high school graduates. Many see it as a time to enhance one’s ability to debate, a school for the intellectually elite, or a pathway to a high-paying salary and luxurious lifestyle. The decision to apply for and enroll in law school should be heavily weighed, and certain considerations should be noted before any actions are taken. Below are items any parent should consider and discuss with their sons and daughters before taking any further steps to becoming a lawyer. The sooner you and your child figure out the answers to these questions, the more prepared everyone can be for a successful path to a future in law.

What Classes Should You Take In College?

Law school, like any other professional school, requires applicants and entrants to have previously completed a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. While many schools state that no one major or academic path is the best preparation for the study of law, some classes will act as a solid foundation.

In college, any class that includes the study of law will help – this can include business law, environmental law, and international law, among others. Obtaining knowledge of international affairs and political history can also be extremely beneficial. Taking a writing class of any kind is also beneficial and highly recommended as it is a great way to prepare making cohesive arguments and fine-tune your critical thinking skills.

Why Do You Want to Study the Law?

If, after you have taken specific law classes during your undergraduate studies, you find yourself particularly passionate about a specific area of the law, it is wise to pursue the endeavor. Many students venture into law as a result of their desire to help others, while others desire to a career in politics and seek to learn the many aspects regarding the law and how it governs the country.

A degree in law is a degree that includes a plethora of subjects and avenues. It is wise to choose the path that you are passionate about.

Why Do You Want to Be a Lawyer?

This is the biggest question of all. Many people believe that being a lawyer is very similar to how it is portrayed by television programs and movies – big name attorneys winning high-profile cases with quips and well placed points.

While this may be the case with some attorneys, the majority of those who practice law find that it involves a great deal of research and communicating with clients and law officials. While there will be times that attorneys represent their clients before a judge, the majority of a lawyers work is done in their office reading through case files. The amount of studying done by a law student will not end when they graduate from law school.

Law students have the ability to gain an intimate knowledge of one of the most important institutions in the world. They also learn to think critically, and develop connections with peers that often last a lifetime. Lawyers have the ability to advocate for what they believe in. Before you attend or apply to law school, consider all of the possibilities in order to be fully informed as you take your next step in your education.

 

This article was contributed by Sandy Wallace, college student, tech geek and aspiring lawyer. Having a tablet at school can make life a lot easier, but keeping it protected is no easy task, which is why Sandy recommends Kensington iPad 3 cases, available at kensington.com.

How to Seek Child Support during a Separation

(U.S. Law and Generally) When your spouse leaves you and your children, it’s not long until you feel the financial pinch in your pocketbook. In your new role as a single parent, taking care of your children and your household expenses on a single paycheck soon becomes challenging, especially since you no longer have your spouse to help you financially.

How to Receive Child Support

If you have asked for money for your children and your spouse refused to help out, you can get a court to order your spouse to pay child support while you are separated. Here are steps you can take to start receiving child support:

1. Locate the OCSE in your area. In some states, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) is called the Friend of the Court (FOC) and is located in the county courthouse. Find your local OCSE by conducting an Internet search of your city or state or call the clerk’s office of your local courthouse.

2. Complete an application. OCSE has applications for child support online that you can print out and complete prior to meeting with a caseworker.

3. Schedule an appointment. The OCSE takes new cases by appointment, but some offices allow “walk-ins.” If you visit the office as a walk-in, be prepared to wait since most offices are very busy. Be prepared to pay a fee since OCSE’s charge an annual service fee to the custodial parent to open a child support case.

4. Bring relevant information. Your case worker will need information such as your spouse’s address, telephone number, employer’s name, annual income and type of vehicle he or she drives. This information will be used to locate your spouse should he or she fail to either receive or respond to child support papers served on him or her. Child support payments are usually collected through the non-custodial parent’s paycheck. You will also be asked to provide information such as your employer’s name, health insurance information and whether you have received child support in the past. The case worker will also give you other documents to complete.

5. Attend your court hearing. Your case worker will take you through the child support process, which includes filing your documents with the court, serving your spouse with a copy of the papers and scheduling a court hearing. Your spouse will have an opportunity to respond to the papers you filed as well as attend the court hearing.

Consider getting Legal Advice

Filing for help from an absent parent, whether it’s California or New Hampshire child support, is a lengthy process and can become complicated, particularly if your spouse objects to paying support. If your spouse had a larger income and carried health benefits for the family, consider filing for a legal separation rather than a divorce, at least for the time being. There are several financial benefits to getting a legal separation for both of you, but this is something that you should discuss with a family lawyer.

An attorney experienced in family law will get your OCSE case moving along while advising you of the legal separation process. The ultimate decision to file for a legal separation is up to you, but in the meantime, your attorney can relieve your financial pressure by getting court-ordered support from you spouse so that you can better provide for your children.

Mother of two and author, Molly Pearce knows the challenges that single parenting presents. She shares this info in the hopes that it can simplify the child support process for readers. New Hampshire child support lawyers, Tenn and Tenn, P.A., also hope to make the seperation and divorce process easier by providing knowledgeable and experienced representation to families in need.

The Adoption Process: Will Your DUI Conviction Affect The Outcome?

Lourdie Adoption Ceremony August 11, 20104

A DUI conviction can have repercussions that go beyond the stigma of having a criminal record. For instance, a drunk driving charge can affect whether a person can continue on with school, get employment, make purchases that require loans like real estate and vehicles, and even rent an apartment. Another thing that a DUI can affect is the ability to adopt a child since quite a few investigating agencies use DUI convictions against parties desiring to adopt. Below are some steps that individuals may take in order to help their cause with adoption authorities.

First – Hire a DUI lawyer

If you are considering adopting a child and you have a DUI conviction, a DUI attorney can assist you with several key steps that may make you a more desirable candidate for adopting. Katz & Phillips, a law firm in Tampa, offers this about defense against DUIs, “…you really might have been perfectly fine to drive, but something went wrong during the arrest process to convince the authorities otherwise.” A critical defense such as this could be the key to getting a DUI conviction expunged from your criminal record. Your lawyer can assist with the following steps:

1. Gather court and Department of Motor Vehicles records to review exactly what anyone who is performing a basic background check will see.

2. Ask a DUI attorney if an appeal is possible on a conviction. While this may not entirely clear a record, it could still be beneficial.

3. Consider having a DUI conviction expunged from the criminal record. While it is no guarantee, this process can help other things besides adoptions, so it is worth the time and effort. Contrary to popular belief, DUI convictions do not automatically clear from a criminal record once seven years have passed. Unless it is expunged, the conviction will appear on most any criminal background check. However, keep in mind that felony DUI convictions are rarely expunged. Also, some states disallow expunging misdemeanors as well.

Ensure that the court record as well as the DMV record is cleared. Otherwise, there is a risk that it will still show up in a background check. Also, while the conviction may not appear on a background check, it may surface during the course of a more thorough investigation. Because adoption agencies operate under more stringent guidelines, they may have access to this information in the same way that a police department or the FBI would. This is because once a DUI is on a record, law enforcement can become aware of it even after expungement when they are checking for prior arrests and convictions.

4. Have the court record examined thoroughly as well as the DMV record to ensure that the conviction was actually expunged.

5. Arrange to complete a homestudy program with regard to the DUI. This will help convince an adoption agency that responsibility was taken for the situation to increase the possibility for a successful adoption.

6. Consult with an adoption lawyer and explain the entire situation so that he or she may recommend how best to proceed.

7. Try speaking with several adoption agencies about the situation. While some agencies require several years after a DUI before they will consider an application, others may have different guidelines to deal with the situation.

8. Consider Disclosing DUI Information because, in the end, if a DUI arrest is not disclosed and is later discovered, an adoption agency may have the right to deny the application automatically. However, if it is explained that the matter was expunged from the record, there could be a possibility that the agency will consider the adoption application.

Both DUI convictions and adoption are complex processes. Therefore, regardless of which avenue is pursued, it is best to first clear the DMV and court records as well as possible with the help of a DUI lawyer. Then concentrate on the adoption process with an expert family lawyer guiding you through the process.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4886622275/

Cyber Crime And Children: What Every Parent Should Know

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Cyber Crime And Children: What Every Parent Should Know

Reports of cyber crimes regularly appear across the airwaves. For parents, these crimes can be particularly troubling, since so many involve children. As such, parent organizations, teachers, government, industry and non-profits have turned their attention toward making the online universe more safe for children. Safeguarding Children Here are some safety tips for parents:

  • Every parent who allows their child to be online should ensure that proper security guards and firewalls are in place at all times. Blocking inappropriate content using software designed for this purpose is a good method, however, it is still necessary to monitor a child’s activities online.
  • Parents should have all passwords and access to the computers that their kids use. Computers should also be checked on a regular basis to ensure that there are no inappropriate sites being visited or attempts by strangers to contact them. Strangers attempting to make contact with children through the Internet are in fact committing white collar crimes. As noted by attorney Kevin W Devore, “Although commonly referred to as ‘white collar crimes,’ these types of cases actually take on a variety of forms and concern a significant array of different subject matters.”
  • Kids should be educated about how to use the computer properly. Teach them about online safety by pointing out that there are criminals online who know how to get their attention. Explain how this could occur, how dangerous this is and that if they get a message from someone they don’t know, they should not answer it, and should tell an adult immediately.
  • One of the more common Internet crimes against children involves engaging them in conversation that leads to abduction and abuse. Children should refrain from entering chat rooms and chatting with people they do not know. They should also notify an adult immediately any time that something doesn’t look quite right.

Parents should report all instances of suspected cyber crime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) either online or by calling 1-800-CALLFBI as soon as possible. Be sure to first gather all of the pertinent information such as the time, online handles, websites and other particulars about the incident.

Technology

In order to safeguard kids online, parents need to know about all of the latest technology. Otherwise, they won’t know what to look for. This is the only way to check in on kids to see what they are doing and keep them safe and secure. Ensure that all privacy settings are set to the highest level on the computer and social media sites. Monitor all web pages and groups that kids belong to on a regular basis. Before allowing them to join any group, ensure that it is safe for them to do so. Let them know that even if they think they know someone, they will need parental permission to start an online friendship with anyone.

Parental Guidance

In addition to safeguarding kids online, parents must also be aware of the fact that children can also abuse Internet privileges. While many children may not intend to do so, there are times when a prank or seemingly innocuous activity can turn troublesome, if not dangerous.

Therefore, parents need to also educate their children on what is appropriate and what would constitute abuse online. For example, they should know that cyber crimes have severe fines and jail time penalties that could impact them and the family for the rest of their lives. For instance:

  • They should understand what bullying is and that it is a crime. Instead of talking about it online, they should discuss any issues they have with others with their parents.
  • Downloading from unknown or illegal sites can damage the computer and also make them vulnerable to future attacks.
  • Activities that involve hacking are considered crimes and could also result in heavy fines and jail time. For example, defacing or shutting down web sites or releasing viruses are criminal activities.

Repercussions

Parents should explain that a criminal record may cause:

  • Loss of school time that could impact grades and their ability to get into college or find work.
  • Financial loss and burden for the family due to legal fees and loss of time from work.

Finally, get to know other parents with whom the kids spend time. Ensure that the kids in the child’s circle have parental or adult supervision when they are using their computers. While this might be tricky, it is better to be safe than to be sorry.

Nadine Swayne understands the importance of keeping children safe on the computer. At the law firm of Kevin W Devore, legal representation is available if you have been charged with a white collar Internet crime. He has extensive experience with civil and criminal cases to benefit his clients.

Photo credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/sneddon/2399403962/