Parents warned of internet dangers
Detectives with Louisiana State Police, assisted by agents with the FBI, arrested a Lafayette man this week for charges relating to computer aided solicitation of a minor.
In late December, detectives were working undercover in various online social networking sites. While undercover, contact was made on a website with 29-year-old John James Lee of Lafayette. Lee was seeking a child under the age of 15 for a sexual encounter.
During the investigation, Lee requested sexual photographs of the child. Detectives, still posing as a child, arranged a meeting with Lee at a location in Lafayette Parish.
Lee arrived at the meeting location and was taken into custody without incident by detectives. He was booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center for computer aided solicitation of a minor and production of child pornography.
This case remains under investigation as part of Operation Child Watch. The mission of Operation Child Watch is to rescue children from the potential abuse of child predators.
Anyone who would like information about presentations concerning child predators can call State Police at (337) 262-5880.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell reminds parents that they should be aware of the risks when searching the web.
Without proper supervision, children can easily be exposed to inappropriate material and messages; be exploited by sexual predators; and even become victims to unscrupulous con artists.
Parents should establish ground-rules for accessing the Internet. Technical capabilities or lack of time may limit a parent’s involvement, but web surfing can be shaped into a family activity. Use a common sense approach to family Internet and keep the following tips in mind:
• Place the computer in a central area of the house such as the family room, den or kitchen.
• Establish specific times when access to the Internet is permitted and keep that schedule.
• Limit the length of access time. This will encourage your child to go directly to the information required, rather than aimlessly wander or surf the Internet.
• Explain to your children that many sites on the Internet are not appropriate for children or young adults, and they are expected to stay away from them.
• Make it clear to your child that you are aware that there is inappropriate material on the Internet, and that looking at such material is forbidden.
• Explain that if a website’s address has adult language in it, the site is not to be visited.
• If the child has access to a credit card, instruct the child never to give it out over the Internet.
• Instruct your child to talk to you if he or she ever finds anything on the Internet that makes them feel uncomfortable.
• Encourage communication with your children. Ask about their Internet experiences and what they have learned.
Red flags for parents include: secretive behavior on the computer; you feel unwelcome at an on-line session; unexplained loss of capacity on the computer’s hard-drive. (It may be crowded with pornographic image files, which are typically very large); a sudden new friend you don’t know; excessive time on the Internet; hidden USB flash drives, which may be used for storage of inappropriate or illegal files.
More than a hundred technological hardware and software tools are available to help empower families to choose what material is appropriate for their children. These tools are specifically designed to promote child safety. With some programs, parents have the option of customizing the filtering device so that it reflects their family’s values.
Caldwell still cautions, however, that “parents need to be aware that blocking and filtering tools should not be used as substitutes for instituting Internet ground rules.” Even the best technology, he said, cannot protect a child from all the dangers in cyberspace.
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