Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Local Sherriff's Departments

As you may have noticed around your community, local Sherriff's departments definitely have the front-line, real world perspective on Internet Safety and what's going on in the community, especially with respect to child abductions or other cyberstalking issues. In my own community, a particular Deputy has made it his mission to educate the county, school by school, on Internet Safety (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/24/AR2006032402324.html).

He actually looks for local postings around the social networking sites like Xanga and Myspace, and then informs the schools and parents of what he finds! Pretty embarrassing for the parents of the children he points out, like the 17-yr old with drinking, partying and semi-clothed pictures well represented on her myspace site, along with her address and high school location. My wife (who runs a Computer Training and Enrichment business, at http://www.whizkidsllc.com) actually did a presentation with this Sherriff at a local PTA meeting on the subject - boy was it good conversation.

Make sure to check out your local PTA scene, or ask the Sherriff/Police Dept. if they're engaged in any community outreach - I'm sure you'd be interested in attending, they'd want you to attend, and you may even be able to help out/contribute and make their presentation even more valuable. I recently had a conversation with the head of a large volunteer Internet Safety organization, and was treated to all kinds of horror stories plus positive and negative results, mostly compliments of the local Sherriff/Police Depts who reach out for help. One interesting thing they're involved in, is the launch of yfly.com, an 'opt-in' safety-conscious social network for teens - very safe, very private, something parents could probably deal with.

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