Someone chatting online to your child could be a pedophile, police said.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
NORTH LIMA -- Parents need to become computer literate and watchful of their children's online activities, a police lieutenant says.
The computer screen should be in plain view and parents should feel free to check where their children have been on the Internet, said Lt. Ken Frost of the Beaver Township Police Department.
"Don't put the computer and the screen into a bedroom in the back corner somewhere. Have it out where it's visible. Know who your kids are talking to. Feel free to walk in on them anytime they're online," he advised.
What took place: Frost and the township's juvenile officer Dan Valentine gave a power point presentation to an audience of several dozen people Tuesday evening at South Range High School titled "Protecting your children online," sponsored by the South Range PTO.
The one-hour program covered computer terminology, various types of computer crimes, chat rooms and ways to prevent a child from being influenced by a "computer friend.''
Last March, Frost and Valentine attended a weeklong seminar on keeping children safe online, which was conducted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va.
"Kids will go into the chat rooms when they're bored. They don't know who they're talking to on-line. They could think it's somebody from another state who's in the same grade as them and plays baseball like they do, and it could be an adult from another state or it could be an adult from down the street. It could be a pedophile," Frost said.
Parents may want to limit the amount of time their children spend on the computer and vary the hours during which they allow their children to use the computer to avoid a pattern of regularly scheduled communication with a stranger.
What to watch for: Frost urged parents to be alert for any strange calls, letters or packages their children are receiving.
Frost said a 17-year-old New Waterford girl told her mother over a cellular phone last month that she was in a store and would be right out.
Her mother waited several minutes, then entered the store and couldn't find her. She surmised her daughter may have gone out of state to meet people she had been chatting with on the Internet.
A missing persons report was filed, and then the girl returned home within a few days, Frost said.
About one in five youths received a sexual solicitation over the Internet within the past year; one in four had an unwanted exposure to pictures of naked people; and one in 17 was threatened or harassed, according to the officers.