Safety: A Growing Concern
Washington, D.C., VOA News
The exploitation of children through the Internet is an increasing
concern worldwide. In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation
is part of a major effort supported by the government, schools, parents
and companies to do something about it.
Last week, parents in the United States received another reminder
of the dangers of the Internet.
Sixteen-year-old Katherine Lester told her parents she needed a passport
for a trip to Canada with friends; she actually flew to the Middle
East to meet a man described as a 25-year-old from Jericho, on the
West Bank. She apparently had been corresponding with him on a web
site for three months, says Dan Roberts of the FBI. "She had
met someone that she really seemed to care for quite a bit and wanted
to go meet," he said.
The FBI quickly discovered where she was, met her in Jordan and convinced
her to return to the United States. The FBI says this is not an isolated
case. "We believe that there are millions and millions of juveniles
working on the Internet every day, and parents have to know what their
kids are doing," Roberts said.
Katherine met the man on a web site called MySpace.com. MySpace is
currently among the world's most popular English language sites. The
people at MySpace say the site has direct links to Internet safety
tips. Federal, state, and local leaders warn parents that they need
to teach young people how to be safe and smart online.
Web Wise Kids is a company and Internet site that uses simulation
games to teach Internet safety.
Katie Canton was 15 years old when an online predator, known to the
FBI, convinced her they were in love. She said, "By the third
day we were boyfriend and girlfriend. By the fourth day he loved me,
and he was ready to do anything."
Her parents had her play a game called ‘Missing' produced by
Web Wise Kids, and it convinced her to end the relationship. Canton
said, "He was wanted by the FBI because he had an ongoing sexual
relationship with a 13-year-old in West Virginia."
With millions of children using the Internet, school systems in the
United States are considering their roles in teaching Internet safety.
Some school systems are using Web Wise Kids, and its game, to teach
students to navigate the web safely.
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