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Growing Concern Over the exploitation of children through the internet

  • Paul Sisco

The exploitation of children through the internet is of increasing concern worldwide.

In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is part of a major effort by governments, schools, parents and companies to do something about it.

Last week parents in the United states received another reminder of the dangers of the internet.

'Please come home, Katherine.'

Sixteen year-old Katherine Lester told her parents she needed a passport for a trip to Canada with friends, but she actually flew to the Middle East to meet a man described as a 25 year old from Jericho, on the West Bank.

She apparently had been corresponding with him on a web site for three months, says Dan Roberts of the FBI.

Mr. Roberts said, "She had met someone that she really, ah, seemed to care for quite a bit and wanted to go meet with him."

The FBI quickly figured out where she was, met her in Jordan and convinced her to return home to the United States.

It says this is not an isolated case.

Mr. Roberts said, "We believe that there are millions and millions of juveniles working on the internet every day, and so parents have to know what their kids are doing."

Katherine met the man on a web site called MySpace dot com.

MySpace is currently among the world's most popular English language sites, and the people at MySpace point out that it has direct links to internet safety tips on its web pages.

Federal, state, and local leaders warn parents they need to teach young people how to be safe and smart on line. Web Wise Kids is a company and internet site that uses simulation games to teach internet safety.

Katie was 15 years old when an on-line predator, known to the FBI, convinced her they were in love.

"By the third day we were boyfriend and girlfriend. By the fourth day he loved me, and he was ready to do anything."

Her parents had her play 'missing' produced by Web Wise Kids … and it convinced her to end the relationship.

"He was wanted by the FBI because he had an ongoing sexual relationship with a 13 year old in West Virginia."

With millions of children using the internet, school systems in the U.S. are considering their roles in teaching internet safety.

Some school systems are using web wise kids, and this game, to teach students to navigate the web safely.

Father: 'Son where are you?

Son: 'I don't know!'

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