|"The Internet has become as commonplace in today's home as the television. With the touch of a button, one can access any information imaginable. The benefits of the 'information superhighway' are immeasurable and the vast array of online services is constantly growing" says Sheriff Mike Tregre|
Reference information such as news, stock quotes, movie reviews, encyclopedia and airline fares are readily available online. Banking, shopping, trading stocks. They, too, can all be transacted on the Internet, as can instant communication by E-mail anywhere in the world. And, it can take users to museums, make college courses available or offer endless hours of entertainment with computer games.
Sheriff Tregre said, "For most people who go online, the experience is only positive. But, like any endeavor, there are risks. Children benefit greatly from being online. By nature very trusting and curious, they need the same parental supervision that parents apply in other aspects of their life.
"Cyberspace, like the rest of the world, is made up of all kinds of people. While most are decent, there are exceptions whose specific intent it to exploit or demean others."
What are the risks of children going online?
Sheriff Tregre explains:
Exposure to Inappropriate Material which is sexual, hateful, violent in nature or encourages
activities that are dangerous or illegal.
Physical Molestation. A child might provide information or arrange an
encounter that could risk his or her safety or the safety of other family
members. Pedophiles have used E-mail, bulletin boards and chat
areas to gain a child's confidence and then arrange a face-to-face meeting.
Harassment. A child might encounter E-mail, chat or bulletin board
messages that are harassing, demeaning or belligerent.
Legal and Financial. A child could give out information regarding a parent's credit card or
doing something that violates another person's rights.
Privacy. Children have a right to privacy. Everything about them is their business and the
business of their families. No one has the right to extract this information from them without
the child's parent's permission.
What can parents do?
Sheriff Tregre offers some tips from the FBI for children and teenagers to help
minimize the potential for trouble in Cyberspace.
Never give out identifying information such as Name, Home Address, School Name,
or Telephone Number in a public message through a chat room or on bulletin boards.
Never send a person a picture of you without first checking with your parent or guardian.
Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are:
Suggestive, Obscene, Belligerent, Threatening and Make You Feel Uncomfortable
Be careful when someone offers you something for nothing, such as gifts and money.
Be very careful about any offers that involve your coming to a meeting or having someone
visit your house.
Tell your parent or guardian right away if you come across any information that makes you
Never arrange a face-to-face meeting without telling your parent or guardian. If your
parent or guardian agrees to the meeting, make sure that you meet in a public place
and have a parent or guardian with you.
Remember that people online may not be who they seem. Because you can not see or
even hear the person it would be easy for someone to misrepresent him - or herself.
Thus, someone indicating that "she" is a '12-year-old-girl" could in reality be an older man.
Be sure that you are dealing with someone that you and your parents know and trust
before giving out any personal information about yourself via E-mail.
Get to know your "online friends" just as you get to know all your other friends.
The Sheriff concludes, "Cyberspace is like a big city with all kinds of different people and neighborhoods, some desirable and some you want to keep away from altogether. Just as parents would warn their children against avoiding those undesirable neighborhoods and people, so should they teach their children to keep a safe distance from undesirable online sites."
Related Links for more information
FBI Publications - A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety
Internet Crime Complaint Center
The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) was established as a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to serve as a means to receive Internet related criminal complaints, research, develop and refer the criminal complaints to law enforcement agencies for any investigation they deem to be appropriate. The IFCC was intended, and continues to emphasize serving the broader law enforcement community, to include federal, as well as state and local agencies, which are combating Internet crime and in many cases participating in Cyber Crime Task Forces.
Date: July 7, 2014