Life on the Information Super-highway

Published 5:03 pm Friday, July 22, 2011

Technology has come a long way since I was little. We didn’t have the Internet or all the benefits you get from having access to the answers to millions of questions at your fingertips.

We didn’t have the kind of problems the Internet brings either.

All we had to worry about was some proverbial stranger who may or may not kidnap us. We didn’t have to worry about such a person reaching through the computer to get us.

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That’s a real concern today.

The Demopolis Police Department have arrested seven men this year who each are charged with sending obscene material to a minor child. Six of those arrests have been made since June.

In each case, the suspects were actually corresponding via the Internet with Demopolis police officers. Tragically, hundreds of children every year don’t have Tommie Reese’s officers protecting them and these predators actually find their way to their targets.

In hopes of educating local parents and guardians about the threats online sexual predators pose to their children, the Demopolis Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Alabama will be hosting an Online Sexual Predator Safety Class for Parents in our city.

When it comes to most things, parents know enough about life in general to stay a step ahead of their children. When it comes to the Internet and technology, the kids are winning.

They consume this stuff. They keep up with it.

When it changes, they know about it. Face it. They know more than us.

That means the sexual predators inside that machine have an advantage over you. They know the kids’ lingo. They know where they hang out online. They know how to trick them.

Each suspect the department has arrested this year has come from outside Marengo County and some from out of state. So it’s not like we have this problem here in our backyard. But thanks to the Internet, the world is our backyard. With instantaneous access at the push of a button, you can get practically anything at anytime.

Chief Reese said educating parents on how their children are using the Internet will go a long way in keeping them safe from the dangers on the Information Super-highway. Parents will have to be the gate-keepers and understand what’s really going on on Facebook, Twitter and chat rooms across the planet.

The class will take place at the Demopolis Police Department Training Room located at 301 East Washington Street, July 27 at 5 p.m.

The class is free and open to the public.

I hope those of you with children old enough to use the Internet, which is basically old enough to read, will take advantage of this opportunity.

What if those seven men hadn’t been talking to a Demopolis police officer. What if it was your son or daughter?

The outcome could have been disastrous. You and me – the parents of these kids – are going to have to take a proactive stance on safeguarding them and keeping them from being run over on the Information Super-highway.

Jason Cannon is the publisher of The Demopolis Times.