The Waynesboro Moose Family Center #1309 March newsletter features a wonderful article by their talented editor; Debbie Akers.
Erik Estrada, Sheriff Mike Brown and his Safe Surfin’ team were pleased to attend the fund raising event at Waynesboro, VA, Family Center and truly appreciate their hospitality. Moose International and Women of the Moose are to be applauded for their commitment to raising awareness about the evils that lurk online, their financial support to the Safe Surfin’ Foundation and their dedication to making communities a safer place for all chidren!
Excerpts from the article:
Internet and Cell Phone Predator Prevention.
by: Debbie Akers
Erik Estrada, a full-time deputy sheriff in Bedford County, Virginia and a spokesman for Safe Surfin’ was at the Waynesboro Moose Family Center in January, speaking about Internet safety. His visit was just prior to the release of the film “Finding Faith” which he and members of the cast are traveling around the country on the Finding Faith American Tour. They are screening the film and speaking on relevant issues the film addresses.
Finding Faith is inspired by a compilation of actual events that Sheriff Mike Brown has investigated through his Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Three victims were brave enough to come forward and tell their stories. In a recent Safe Surfin’ Foundation Public Service Announcement, one of the victims courageously told the story of how she was abducted by a child predator and remained captive for three days before being rescued by the police.
The last contact her family had with her was seeing her walk down their driveway in rural Virginia talking on her cell phone. The victim was met at the end of the driveway by two people who forced her into a pickup truck at knife point. She was abducted and held hostage until police rescued her in Pittsburgh, PA.
Michael Brown, Sheriff of Bedford County, Virginia, explains “This abduction occurred through the use of a cell phone and the new technology allowing kids to chat via these new smart phones.” The victim had been texting and chatting for several weeks by cell phone with someone she believed to be a 16 year-old boy. She felt the relationship was innocent and frequently chatted with the boy about normal teenage troubles. But the person she was chatting with was actually a 38-year old man who disguised himself as the boy. He and a female companion drove over 400 miles from his home in Pittsburgh to abduct their victim.
“We can’t just focus on Internet safety now. Technology is changing and child predators are always looking for new ways to hurt children,” Brown states. This story is a wake-up call for all parents to begin monitoring their children’s cell phones. The situation emphasizes the importance of parental involvement.
“This victim was one of the lucky ones, and we are so proud of her and her family for sharing this terrible experience in order to educate more and more young people. We are thankful that she wants to share her story,” Brown concludes.
The FBI estimates that 88 million [kids] are on-line in the U.S. alone and will visit one or more of the 40,000-plus chat rooms routinely visited by child sexual predators. Safety software parents could install on home computers might not prevent the threat. The FBI also reports a 100% chance that a child using the internet will be approached by a child predator.
The average age a child starts using a cell phone, is 12.1. The average age of when a child starts using a computer, is 6.
With the number of Smartphones, as well as simple wireless phones that allow internet browsing, Internet safety is not just on the home computer anymore. Technology is changing and child predators are always looking for new ways to hurt children.
In 2012 it was reported that 90% of US households have a computer and 82% of US Population use a wireless phone. 35% of wireless phones sales are Smartphones.
The most popular Smartphone activity is texting, followed by internet browsing and playing games. It is estimated that 184.3 billion text messages are sent a month.
Nielsen.com released figures for website usage in the US during May 2012 and Google came out on top across all websites in terms of total unique visitors, with its 173 million beating Facebook by over 20 million. Although Facebook came in 2nd for the number of unique users, it dominated the field, with people spending almost six hours per month on the site – three times longer than its closest rival.
To fulfill requests from its customers, nTelos Wireless announced the launch of a new custom parental control application in 2012.
Parental Control, is designed to give parents peace of mind in multiple ways, from offering custom reports that show who is texting their children to a GeoAlert feature, which alerts them when their child arrives safely at school or a friend’s house. In addition, a parent can also use the location feature to locate their child’s device at any time to determine where their child is located. The app can also alert parents when certain key words are used in texts, or when there are changes to their child’s address book.
“This app is perfect for parents who want their child to have a cell phone for convenience or emergencies, but also want to set boundaries on when and how they use their phone,” said Conrad Hunter, chief operating officer of nTelos Wireless. “Parents download the app to their child’s phone, and then use a website to set the controls and features.”
“In a mobile, digital world, parents need help to gain insight into their kids’ mobile lives,” Hunter added. “Without parental guidance, kids can easily misuse cell phones to become inadvertent bullies, or their victims, or worse. This was a feature our customers were asking for, so we’re delivering.”
Safe Surfin’ educates the public about Internet crimes involving children through its interactive website, special events, printed materials, public service announcements, and other educational opportunities. Free education software is also offered.
Safe Surfin’ has both the EZ Child/Elderly ID kit and the Cop in Box programs that we can implement in our area with the help of local law enforcement agencies.
The Waynesboro Moose Family Center donates annually to the Safe Surfin’ foundation in hopes of helping to make an impact. With the help of Safe Surfin’, the release of “Finding Faith”, Education, Law Enforcement and Wireless Companies, we can all help to protect and keep children safe.
Cop In A Box
The number of law enforcement officers watching over our children’s Internet activity was so small the Safe Surfin’ and Sheriff Mike Brown decided to help. That help came in the form of a ‘Cop in a Box’. The Cop in a Box is a trained police officer with the knowledge and equipment to apprehend and remove sexual predators targeting our children on the Internet. Safe Surfin’ Foundation will provide funding, hardware, software and a proven training curriculum for agencies affiliated with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). EZ Child/Elderly ID Kit Every day 2000 children are reported missing and thousands of the elderly wander off. The key to recovering these children/elders is quick action by parents/ guardians and law enforcement. Safe Surfin’ offers the nation’s most comprehensive digital fingerprinting child/ elderly identification system. We ensure that we capture all the vital information required by the Amber Alert system. Our EZ Child ID/ Elderly form includes all 10 fingerprints and is saved in the universal PDF format. The parent/guardian receives the EZ Child/ Elderly ID CD or thumb drive with all the information on it. This aids in the reporting time if a child is abducted or an elder is missing. The parent/guardian can either take the CD or email the form to a police department.
EZ Child/Elderly ID System
The number of law enforcement officers watching over our children’s Internet activity was so small the Safe Surfin’ and Sheriff Mike Brown decided to help. That help came in the form of a ‘Cop in a Box’. The Cop in a Box is a trained police officer with the knowledge and equipment to apprehend and remove sexual predators targeting our children on the Internet. Safe Surfin’ Foundation will provide funding, hardware, software and a proven training curriculum for agencies affiliated with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC).