The announcement that "MySpace" is taking steps to help prevent sexual predators on-line also includes encouragement from state officials for parents to stay involved. While the agreement reached with "MySpace" takes several steps to try and keep kids from falling victim to sexual predators, Mike Ferjak, an investigator for the Attorney General’s office, says parents have to stay involved.
Ferjak says you may think your kid is immune because they’re a good child, but he says it’s not about the kids — as the children aren’t doing anything wrong by using the internet. Ferjak says that’s being naive, because it isn’t the "good kids" or "bad kids" who’re involved in these crimes, it’s all kids that are at risk.
"Many times, in fact the vast majority of times, the kids didn’t go looking for the predator, the predator came looking for them," Ferjak says. Ferjack says the kids who are engaged in normal day-to-day surfing on the internet aren’t out there doing something they shouldn’t be doing. Ferjak says the predators hang out on the sites made for kids and look for an opening to entice them, they aren’t visiting porn websites, because that’s not where the kids go. He says parents need to talk with their kids about these potential dangers and keep up on what the kids are doing when they’re on-line.
Ferjak says,"The simple fact of the matter is, is by the time you call us, or law enforcement, something bad’s already happened. Parents have the only real opportunity to be a proactive agent in this thing and prevent it before it happens. And they way that they do that is talking to their kids and taking an active interest in what their internet activities are and where they’ve been. And making it a regular part of the family discussion. And not something that we talk about once, and then forget about it until the next time something happens."
Some kids may be far more computer and internet savvy than their parents. Ferjak says there is an information website that’s a project of National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that can help you. Ferjak says his best advice is to go to http://www.netsmartz.com , and it will tell you about the internet and some of the hazards that might be out there.
Ferjak says the site will also give you information on some good websites for kids to visit. Ferjak says he takes as much time as he can when he’s not investigating the on-line crimes to talk with teachers and schoolkids about the potential dangers on-line.