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Children and the Internet

Hello again, I hope everyone is enjoying the fall weather and that the student families have made the adjustment to the return of school schedules and all that it entails. It’s hard to believe that October is already here.

As you may have read in the papers, one officer from our department recently had the pleasure of arresting a serious child predator. This case is disturbing on so many levels I wouldn’t know where to begin. Unfortunately, I can’t speak of the details due to the fact that the case is still being investigated. I am going to share some thoughts that I have that might help parents to realize that, while the internet and technology can be a useful tool for education, recreation and research, it can also be used very easily to victimize children and destroy lives.

As you may be aware, many of the electronic devices that children use have the capability to connect with the internet. It’s not just desk top and lap top computers that access the internet… cell phones, video game consoles, the iPod Touch, and other devices can access the internet and enable your child to explore the world and reach out to people that you may not want them reaching out to. Even if you don’t have wireless internet access at your home, these portable devices will allow your child to access whatever they want, wherever they have access to a wireless internet connection.

I am not condemning technology and the positive things it brings to our lives. What I am doing is suggesting that parents need to pay attention to what their children are doing with the technology that is available, and equally important, pay attention to who their children are communicating with. I will also remind parents that it’s not just Facebook and MySpace that you have to be concerned about. The case we’re currently investigating involves a sick predator that used a “chat room” associated with a video game console that has internet access capability.

In closing, I have read some of the comments posted by readers of the local internet news sources related to this case, and I would like to clarify something. This 13 year old child is a victim, period. No family is perfect, no parent, and no child. Pay attention to what your kids do, stay involved in their lives, and love them and protect them as much as you can.

Have a happy and safe Halloween, and watch out for the trick-or-treaters out walking around.