Keeping the Internet Safe for Our Children
March 25, 2005
The Internet is one of the most useful inventions of our time. The Internet provides access to a wealth of information and services that enable our children to look up information for school projects, allows us to check the weather for Saturday's soccer game, and even to order groceries online and have them delivered to our door. However, the Internet has become a dangerous place for children.
There are an estimated 77 million kids online today and there is a 100 percent chance of a child meeting a predator in a chat room, according to the FBI. As a parent, I am both alarmed and angered by these statistics and as a Member of the U.S. Congress, I believe we have a duty to protect our children and stop predators from hurting our youth.
We must educate parents and children about the dangers of these predators on the Internet.
Sheriff Mike Brown, of the Bedford County Sheriff's Office, is leading the effort of a cooperative group of law enforcement agencies on the international, federal, state and local levels to apprehend predators, protect potential victims and educate parents, teachers and children about Internet safety. Earlier this month, Sheriff Brown announced that the law had a new giant on its side. NBA All-Star Shaquille O'Neal was named spokesperson for the Safe Surfin' Foundation, which provides parents, teachers and school administrators, law enforcement, community groups and librarians with information and resources to keep children safe on the Internet. O'Neal, who was also sworn-in as an Honorary Deputy U.S. Marshal, will help the Safe Surfin' Foundation educate children, teens, and parents about the dangers of online predators and how to avoid falling victim online.
The Safe Surfin' Foundation supports the educational activities of Operation Blue Ridge Thunder, the organization led by Sheriff Brown, which has become internationally known for cracking tough cases and finding pedophiles lurking on the Internet. Most recently, Operation Blue Ridge Thunder apprehended a Northern Virginia man who sought to meet a 13 year-old girl, with whom he had exchanged sexually explicit e-mail. Unfortunately, this individual was able to hide behind the cloak of diplomatic immunity and fled to his native country in the Middle East.
I applaud the efforts of Sheriff Brown and the Safe Surfin' Foundation to keep our children safe from Internet predators. I encourage parents, teachers, librarians, and youth leaders to visit the Safe Surfin' website, at www.safesurfincentral.org to learn how to better protect our children on the Internet. Talking to children about the dangers of the Internet and how to avoid them is paramount to their safety. By working together, we can help keep our children safe and out of the reach of Internet predators.