Tk34’s Weblog
The Trials of a ‘Rookie’ Blogger

Internet Safety

Wow! I recently watched a presentation on sexual predators, and as an educator (and more importantly a parent) I was shocked! I guess I am a bit naive in thinking that what I saw was real. The presenter (who’s name escapes me at the moment) worked for the police as an undercover sexual predator. His job was to go into chat-rooms (acting as a young boy or girl) in an attempt to catch sexual predators. He demonstrated how easy it is for predators to get valuable information about those who use chat rooms.

He entered a chat room and within 10 minutes had an amazing amount of information on the individual he was chatting with! He met her as ‘preciousgirl44’ and started chatting with her, pretending he was a 14 year old boy. While he was chatting with her, he used another computer to do his ‘dirty work’. I can’t explain all the programs he was using (mostly because I was in complete amazement) but through all his typing and clicking, the end result was him looking at a picture (using Google Earth) of the young girls backyard in Saskatoon. Along the way he found out her name, age, hobbies, like and dislikes, clubs she was in, the school she attended, the grade she was in, knew what she looked like from her MySpace page, visited her on Facebook . . .bottom line, it was scary!

The reality for me is that we need to protect our youth from predators out there. It became very obvious to me that the technologies out there that children use today can be dangerous (if carelessly used). It made me realize we need to take every precaution necessary to educate ourselves, our students, and our children how to protect themselves . . . so that they do not become easy targets for internet predators.

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2 Responses to “Internet Safety”

  1. Maybe we should be more concerned about what the police can find out about us online! Hmmm ….

    But seriously, Frontline recently aired a show called “Growing Up Digital”. I haven’t had time to watch it, but it deals with online predators and cyberbullying. You might find it worth watching. Many of the blogs I read that reviewed the show said that the real threat to children, according to the show, was cyberbullying not online predators. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

  2. As someone who deals with this issue regularly, I’m always concerned with the “sexual predator” emphasis. As Rob says, cyberbullying in really the big issue when it comes to safety. I’d encourage you to have a look at a study done but the Internet Caucus. For me this was a key finding:

    “Our research, actually looking at what puts kids at risk for receiving the most serious kinds of sexual solicitation online, suggests that it’s not giving out personal information that puts kid at risk. It’s not
    having a blog or a personal website that does that either. What puts kids in danger is being willing to talk about sex online with strangers or having a pattern of multiple risky activities on the web like going to sex sites and chat rooms, meeting lots of people there, kind of behaving in what we call like an internet daredevil.”

    http://www.netcaucus.org/statistics/

    This is not to say it doesn’t happen but the key is it happens as a result of blatant, intentional and prolonged encounters with strangers. I’m all for protecting kids but too often this conversation gets turned into something of fear of the internet and that predators are lurking all around us so we better not ever post a picture of a kid for this reason….the facts just don’t bear this out.

    Sorry for the rant but it’s one issue that usually creates false fears.


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