The question of what children really do when they hop on the Internet can bring fear to the hearts of parents.
>Crook County Community Coalition offering free workshop Thursday on Internet safety
With this in mind, the Parents R Us committee, a sub-committee of the Crook County Community Coalition (C4), is offering a free workshop for parents this Thursday evening.
"I think it's just something that parents should be aware of," C4 Coordinator Cindy Brockett said. "The Internet, while it's incredibly helpful when it comes to knowledge, it can also be somewhat harmful. Maybe your child says too much on the Internet. You don't want anyone to really be able to find them."
The workshop is aimed at parents who have children of all ages, as the Internet is a draw for children as young as grade school age.
"I just think that all kids are vulnerable so parents should know the good, the bad and the ugly of the Internet." Brockett said. "The kids are so much more aware of the technology than we as adults are. They're growing up in a totally different age than we did and so unfortunately, we speak a different language sometimes. It's really important that parents are on the cutting edge of what kind of technology is out there."
"Parents just have to be absolutely diligent," Prineville Police Department Captain Michael Boyd said. "In my opinion, it is a recipe for disaster to let a young person have unfettered access to a computer these days because there are people who are hoping beyond hope to find that circumstance."
While the workshop is aimed at teaching parents the dangers of the Internet, it is to protect children, not prevent them from using the valuable resource.
"At our house the computer is in the living room and the computer is used only when we're there," Boyd continued. "There's lots of stuff parents can do. You can password-protect (the computer and certain Web sites). I tend to believe that a computer in a kid's room is not a good plan. The lure is just too great. Where we may think about the issues of computer crime once a day, there are people whose whole lives are devoted to committing computer crime."
In the workshop, Detective Scott Vincent, of the Bend Police Department, will guide parents through Web sites which children and teenagers frequently visit.
"He's going to go through several different places, like My Space, chat rooms and stuff like that," Brockett said. "You'll be able to see what kids are saying and what kids are doing. He'll speak about the harmful places the kids can go, places where they don't realize can be harmful, or the way predators can find you and that type of thing."
"The problem with so much Internet crime is the whereabouts of the suspect are unknown, even with predators," Boyd said. "This is one of those crimes where apprehension is probably the least successful way of preventing the crime. We want to do prevention."