Internet Safety for Kids

* How to take an active role in preventing technophilia

The holidays are over and the presents are unwrapped.  The lucky kid in your family got a brand new computer.  With its high-speed Internet connection, this PC (or Mac, if that's your religion) is your child’s ticket to an online social life.  There are songs to download!  Funny videos to watch online!  Chat rooms to join!  Instant messages to trade with friends! 

But what if there’s also a sexual molester sending e-mail?  A violent offender lurking in the chat rooms?  Or worse, a child predator waiting to set a date with your unsuspecting child?

As adults, we know to stay away from the shady side of the Internet. Our kids, however, are too innocent to think that the 13-year old skateboard dude in the chat room is really a 43-year old sexual predator looking for his next child to abuse.  The sad fact is, one in five children was sexually solicited or approached over the Internet in 1999 according to the year 2000 report “Online Victimization: A Report on the Nation’s Youth”.  As millions more kids join the ranks of Internet users, the statistics can only go up.

This report, written by the Crimes Against Children Research Center, says there is a growing risk to children, particularly teenagers, in cyberspace which includes: unwanted sexual solicitations and approaches; unwanted sexual material; and threatening and offensive behavior directed at them.

But your child, and other youths in your community, doesn’t need to be a victim just because he surfs the Internet.  You can take an active role to help prevent “technophilia,” a term used to describe the condition of persons using the Internet to engage in sexual deviance.

Laura Chappell of the Protocol Analysis Institute has developed a program to educate adults on how to monitor and educate children who go online in order to keep them safe.  The program is called Internet Safety for Kids.  All of the materials for this program are available for free online.  The materials include a book, an online course, and presentations.  Everything is designed for use by adults and there is an advisory about showing the materials directly to children.

Laura was motivated to develop this course after listening to a law enforcement officer present the awful details of a child pornography ring that tortured, raped and otherwise exploited children.  Given her position as one of the world’s foremost authorities on network analysis, she is able to use her knowledge of the Internet’s inner workings to help law enforcement agencies trace and arrest some of the online predators.

Now she is trying to enlist other concerned adults who are willing to use her course to learn the subject matter and spread the topic of Internet safety to parents, teachers and other adults who work with youths either locally or nationally. Here are her recommended first steps to getting involved:

1. Review the Internet Safety for Children audio presentation (ISK-A-v1-1.WMV) so we know how this program is working.

2. Check out each of the links listed in the Resources Slides (ISK-Links.PDF).

3. Talk with your local schools, churches, community centers to arrange a presentation.

4. Soon: We should have the video of the master presentation for you to view/practice with.

5. Make the presentation - try to obtain some feedback and contact information from attendees (ISP-Survey.PDF).

6. Follow-up with attendees to see if they have used your presentation or have additional feedback.

7. Please provide us with that information (

As a leader in computer networking, your peers, friends and neighbors look to you for computing advice.  Why not do something good for your community by downloading Laura’s child safety materials and learning how to give seminars in your area to interested parents, educators and youth group leaders?  Giving back to your community will help you feel good, and it might save a child and his or her family a lot of anguish someday.

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