Photo and story are courtesy of www.hasbrouck-heights.net  2009 All Rights Reserved.

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Unprotected Innocence

Your child knows everything, and you know nothing.

And that’s probably true -- about being online. They can chat, surf, text, IM, e-mail, blog, post their profile on Facebook or My Space, etc.

But, are they really aware of the perils, especially when they freely divulge personal and intimate information about themselves? Do they know how to protect themselves?

You may not know a lot about computers, but you should learn how to protect and ensure a safe online experience for your child.

The Hasbrouck Heights Police Department and Board of Education hosted "Staying Safe in Cyberspace -- Internet Safety for Parents" on April 1, 2009, in the Hasbrouck Heights High School Auditorium.

The program began with comments by Barbara Christanson, followed by Chief Michael Colaneri who introduced Detective John J. DeVoe, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit, the longest serving and most proactive unit in the tri-state area.

According to Detective DeVoe, "The Internet is a valuable educational tool for adults and children. Unfortunately, it also exposes our children to a variety of sexual predators (an estimated 50,000 who surf the net nationwide), identity thieves, and other deviant members of society.

There is no expectation of privacy on the Internet. You can never undo a stupid upload. When your child posts anything, it’s like a tube of toothpaste, no one can ever put it back ...ever!"

He offered concrete Internet safety suggestions for parents to include:

Keep the computer in a common area of your home, not in your child’s bedroom. Install watchdog and blocking software.

Establish online usage rules for your children to follow, such as, never give out identifying information about themselves, download pictures from an unknown source or arrange to meet someone they met online.

Parents should learn some computer lingo like "POS - parent over shoulder," or references to 420 - marijuana.

Have your child go through their cell phone, e-mail, etc., buddy list -- with the rule, if they can’t clearly identify that person within 5 seconds, delete the name.

Everyone is responsible to act when there are references to "kill myself" or "kill group."

He discussed child pornography and how accidental exposure can inadvertently draw your child into it. If your child takes a naked photo of themselves and sends it out, it is a 2nd degree crime.

For more information go to: BCPO.net, CyberAngels.org, GetWise.org, isafe.org, ProtectKids.com and SafeKids.com. ###   2009 The Gazette Newspaper. All Rights Reserved.

 

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