There is protection from on-line predators

There is protection from on-line predators by Amber Skjonsberg Do you feel safe letting your children go on the Internet? Does your child have Internet privileges because of how responsible he or she is or how good of grades they have? If so how do you know when they're responsible enough to protect themselves from on-line predators?

Christina, 13, was a straight "A" student, captain of the cheerleading squad, and very popular with her classmates. Being a smart and seemingly responsible teenager, she was able to chat in chat rooms. Christina was comfortable making on-line friends and then meeting them later on face-to-face.

One Friday night she went to the local mall to meet one of her new chat-room buddies, a 24 year old man. The two of them engaged in sexual conduct during which Christina was strangled and killed. Christina's "friend" confessed to the murder after several interviews.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited children, one in five children under 17 received sexual solicitation. Meaning, on average, 14 Wakonda elementary students have been exposed to some type of sexual conduct by being online. One in 33 children have been pressured into meeting one of their chat room buddies face-to-face.

Although one in 33 might not seem like a likely possibility that your child will be that one, there's always that chance. Christina's parents didn't think it would happen to them; imagine if that was you losing your child. Would you keep thinking the chances aren't worth worrying about?

Parents never stop worrying about their children, no matter how responsible they are. But is reading what your child types invasion of privacy; even though, by reading it you might be able to save you child's life?

Today, there seems to be thousands of new computer gadgets and gizmos that you can buy or download that provide protection for you and your family. Now which programs are the best for your family, and how do you know that the programs you pick will work?

www.Pcsndreams.com dubs these five monitoring programs "useful assistance to the parents that simply can't always be there watching their children:" Parental Control Suite, Spy Buddy, PC Activity Monitor, Key Key Monitor, and Chat Watch. All of these programs have basically the same monitoring programs. They each record every key stroke made on your computer and then send a report back to you.

Although these programs seem like a foolproof way to keep track of your children, they are not. The only foolproof way to protect your child from Internet predators would to be there watching them.

Another program that helps parents and teachers become more interactive with children's Internet usage is i-SAFE, funded by Congress. Four million dollars was used to make the i-SAFE program available for all schools across America.

The Wakonda staff had a meeting on Jan. 30 to inform teachers about the i-SAFE program and to show them just how fast an online predator could find any of the high school students.

"Within five to 10 minutes an older man in his 50s started to talk to me as I was posing as a 13 year old girl," says Huber.

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After realizing how fast children could be approached by an on-line predator the teachers are more than willing to help stop it anyway they can.

The i-SAFE program gives teachers five on-line lessons to teach elementary students and another five lessons to teach high school students. The lessons basically talk about Internet safety, what to do and not to do while on the Internet, and how to protect your-self from on-line predators.

The Safe Kids Web page (SafeKids.com) gives eight basic rules for children to follow while on-line. These rules include not giving any of your personal information to anybody, never agreeing to meet anyone you've met in a chat room face to face, and always tell your parents if something or someone makes you feel uncomfortable while on-line. The stressed idea of every rule, Web page, and computer program is to TELL YOUR PARENTS.

Nothing can protect your children more than you. Show your children what's expected and how to be a good Internet citizen. The bottom line is to spend more time on-line with your children. You wouldn't want something to happen to them when there's so many ways to prevented it.

If you would like to know more about the i-SAFE program and to learn more ways to protect your children, you are invited to a parent's slide-show presentation on Monday, March 22. If you don't want to wait till then you can always call i-SAFE at (760) 603-7911 or you can visit their Web page info@isafe.org.

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