Parents Can Help Ensure Teen Safety on the
parents have instructed their children to avoid talking to strangers. But what
if those strangers are lurking inside Internet chat rooms? Online predators
are the child stalkers of the new millennium, and parents should be aware of
the potential dangers that await their oftentimes naïve and unsuspecting children.
Preventing the victimization of children
and providing useful ideas for safe Internet navigation are featured in the
May cover story of St. Anthony Messenger, entitled, “Protecting Children
From Internet Predators” by William J. Byron, S.J. After April 18, the article
will be posted at: : AmericanCatholic.org.
Several years ago, Father William J. Byron, S.J., served on a committee led
by former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, aimed at protecting children
from pornography and instructing parents on safeguarding their children from
Internet predators. Even though the committee completed a report on its research,
Father Byron felt his job was unfinished. By giving a workshop on a Saturday
last November at his parish, Holy Trinity, in Washington D.C., Father Byron
and his team wanted to teach parents and their teens about safe Internet usage.
Father Byron was joined by John Rabun,
chief operating officer of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
(NCMEC), Marianna Novielli and Michelle Collins, two knowledgeable staffers
from that organization. The team immediately met with the teenagers and offered
tips for online safety.
Novielli advised teenagers to avoid responding
to strangers when they're in chat rooms and to use e-mail addresses that do
not advertise their names or birth dates. "If a pedophile online is looking
for a 13-year-old, he's going to chat with someone who has 1990 in his
or her e-mail address," she says.
Michelle Collins addressed the parents, advising them to supervise
their children's online activities, which includes e-mails, Web
pages, chat rooms and instant messages. She also recommended that
parents become affiliated with such Web sites as www.cybertipline.com,
a site designed for reporting suspicious and/or illegal activity.
Aside from good communication with their
kids, parents should become better acquainted with the Internet. As one observer
noted, "Keeping a child out of harm's way on the Internet has as much to do
with a parent's ability to talk openly with a child as it does with how computer
savvy a parent is."
Permission is granted to reprint this release.