Police hold Internet Safety Seminar
Almost everyone is familiar with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, but have you ever heard of Yik Yak, Poof!, or Kik Messenger?
Most kids have, most adults have not.
That is one of the reasons why the Rome and Floyd County Police Department’s teamed up Thursday night for an Internet Safety Seminar at the Joint Law Enforcement Center.
Young people face certain risks when they log on, from identity theft and cyber bullying to sexual predators.
Special Agent Dan Sims with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation told parents and kids during the seminar that it’s almost impossible to know if a stranger you are chatting with online is who they say they are.
“It is not hard for someone to generate a completely false Facebook profile with false monikers and fake pictures to portray themselves as someone they are not,” Sims said.
Then there is the issue of “Sexting.”
Sims said if someone takes and then shares or posts a suggestive picture of someone under the age of 18, that is a violation of Georgia Computer Pornography Law, even if the person taking the photo is also a minor.
“When an underage person generates an image or has an image generated of their self and that image gets distributed in cyber space, they have inadvertently violated this law,” Sims said. “The most dangerous this in this whole scenario is that you can’t get that image back. It’s almost impossible to retrieve an image from cyber space and destroy it.”
Sims said online safety does not start with children, it starts with parents taking ownership in what goes on in their home and they need to know what their children are looking at.
“Most of the time, children are doing the proper thing and they are just living life on the computer and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Sims said. “This is more about protecting children rather than over managing children. Because there are a lot of predators and criminals in cyber space with one goal: That is to victimize and exploit children.”
He also suggested a website called safesearchkids.com, which is a child-safe search engine.
Also during the seminar, Investigators Randy Gore and Stephanie Hill-Hudson with the Rome Police Department and Investigator Teri Davis with the Floyd County Police Department gave a presentation about the local Child Abduction Response Team.
CART started in 2004 after the kidnapping and murder of 11-year old Carlie Brucia in Florida.
There are certain guidelines that must be met for an “Amber Alert” or “Levi’s Call” in Georgia to be issued.
One of those requirements is that it has to be a confirmed abduction.
CART goes beyond those criteria.
There have been three cases in Rome and Floyd County where the team was activated.
One of those cases was in January of 2013 and involved a 15-year old girl who voluntarily left home to be with a “Friend” she was talking to on the internet.
That “Friend” turned out to be a 44-year old man who was a registered sex offender in both Georgia and Alabama.
The teen was found in LaGrange but after she had been sexually assaulted.
Hill-Hudson said not only can kids get online via the computer, but also with their cell phones, iPads, Kindles, and other devices.
In fact, parents should consider the cell phone a computer rather than a telephone.
Also Thursday, Floyd County Police Investigator Chris Fincher demonstrated the FBI’s Child ID app, which is available for iPhone and iPads.
It contains information for parents and with one touch they can call 911 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
All information is kept PRIVATE.