Internet Safety

One of District Attorney Mike O’Dell’s top priorities is the protection of the children of in DeKalb and Cherokee County. The Internet is a useful tool, and a staple of everyday life. For children however the Internet also carries significant risk as a conduit for illegal, and potentially harmful, communications from strangers.

It is important for you as a parent to establish rules for your child's Internet use. Consider the use of a contract to set the rules your child must adhere to while online. Also, make sure that online time doesn't take the place of social activities and other important interests.

In 2004, researchers at the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire completed a study of online child sexual abuse. The results of the study are based upon actual online child sexual abuse case statistics reported to researchers by law enforcement agencies across the country. The study may help parents, educators, and law enforcement understand, and develop new methods to prevent, the online sexual victimization of children. Please take a moment to read the American Psychological Association's press release about this study by clicking here. To read, download, or print the entire study as published in the November 2004 volume of theJournal of Adolescent Healthclick here.

After reading this study, we urge you to visit the Real Life Stories  site hosted by Netsmartz. Netsmartz, a site developed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, is one of the most comprehensive sites related to child online safety available on the Internet. This site contains a collection of stories from the mouths of victims of online child exploitation. The stories are compelling, and may help parents and educators further understand the problem of online child exploitation.

Some Potential Online Risks

  • Your child meets with a stranger he or she met online. 
  • You, your child, your child's child's and fellow students, or your family are put in danger because your child gives out personal information while communicating with strangers, or posts it on the Internet. 
  • Your child engages in or is the object of rude, threatening, or harassing online conduct. 
  • Your child receives, or distributes, illegal or offensive files. 
  • Your child receives email messages containing illicit or illegal materials or links to web sites designed to capture personal information without the visitor's knowledge. 
  • Your child views inappropriate web sites, or receives inappropriate email or chat communications from others. 
  • An Internet user posts false personal information about your child online. Or, your child posts the personal identifying information of another person with the intent to harass. 
  • You or your child's computer is hacked, and the intruder steals information that can identify your or your family or be used to commit identity theft. 
 Signs Your Child May Be At Risk

  • Your child is using an account that belongs to someone else. 
  • Your child withdraws from family, friends, or favorite activities, is depressed, or attempts to hurt himself or herself. 
  • Your child is spending lot of time online, especially at night. 
  • Your child is turning off the monitor or minimizing the screen quickly when someone enters the room. 
  • You find pornography on your child's computer. 
  • Your child has a large cell phone bill. 
  • Your child suddenly has many new friends. 
  • Your child shows signs that they are confused about their sexuality. 
  • Your child engages in behavior designed to deceive you about what they are doing online. 
  • Your child receives packages, mail, gifts, or phone calls from people you don't know. 
  • Your child suddenly has unaccounted for amounts of money. 
Parental Safety Tips

  • Play an active role in your child's online activities. Try to make the Internet a fun, family learning activity. 
  • Don't put an Internet-ready computer in your child's bedroom. Keep the computer in an open, public location in your house. 
  • Set a time limit for your child's Internet use. 
  • Be aware of the services and sites your child uses. If you don't know how to utilize the services then have your child show you. Look for a "family-friendly" online service provider. 
  • Be very careful about posting information about your child or your family online. 
  • Establish clear guidelines for your child's Internet use. Teach your children that there will be consequences for their actions. Consider using a contract to make the rules clear and enforceable. 
  • Don't be scared or overwhelmed by technology! You can learn the technology you need to protect your child online. The resources you need are on these pages or the links to these pages. Use them to empower yourself and protect your family. 
  • Don't allow your child to post information on the Internet. Tell your child that you love them and that they can turn to you if they have questions or need help with tough times they encounter. If you don't, someone else that they meet online will, and the consequences could be tragic. 
  • Remember that children are curious and sometimes get themselves in situations they did not mean to get into. Remember also that if a child is approached by an adult predator, it is not the child's fault. The child may feel a number of emotions including guilt, disappointment, and shame, and will likely have trouble talking to you. 
Responding to an Immediate Problem or Unlawful Contact

If you are concerned about an immediate threat to someone you know, or that your child has received files, communications, or materials that are offensive and could be illegal, take the following steps:

  • If you are alarmed about a potentially illegal incident currently occuring, don't turn the computer off. This may destroy the only evidence leading law enforcement to a potential suspect. Turn off the monitor or close the laptop lid. Then contact the police and your Internet Service Provider to report the abuse. If you have an emergency, dial 911. Keep everyone away from the computer until you have spoken with an authority that has given you guidance on how to proceed. 
  • If there is no immediate response, save or print the email, chat or file. 
  • If you would like to report online child exploitation, file a Cybertip with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

Internet Safety Tips for Young Surfers

  • Always follow the rules that your parents or teachers set for your Internet use. 
  • Never give out personal information such as your name, address, or phone number when talking online. You or your family may not be safe if you do. 
  • Do not create a personal online profile. Do not post any information about you, or anyone else, anywhere on the Internet. Posting information about your or anyone else may get you or someone else in trouble, and may not be safe. 
  • Learn how to block others from seeing your personal information or contacting you. Learn how to report abuse to your Internet service provider. 
  • Don't bully, threaten, or harass anyone online. Don't login to any computer or account that doesn't belong to you. And don't share files that are harmful or offensive. Doing any of these could get you in serious trouble. 
  • Keep your passwords private. Do not give them to anyone besides your parents. 
  • Do not share photos or files with people you do not know. 
  • Always delete unknown e-mail attachments without opening them. E-mail attachments can contain viruses and other programs that might damage your computer. 
  • Ignore ayone that makes you feel bad while you are talking on the Internet. 
  • If you ever feel uncomfortable about something you see, hear, or read on the Internet, leave the computer alone and tell an adult right away! 
  • Never agree to get together with someone you have met online. If anyone you meet online asks you to get together with them, tell an adult right away! 
  • Remember that the Internet is not private. Anyone that wants to find you, can find you. 
  • Remember that people on the Internet sometimes lie about who and what they are. 
  • If you think a friend is in trouble, tell an adult. You could save a life. 
  • Remember, most importantly, that anyone that you meet online that tells you that they love you, that they care about you, and that they can help you take care of your problems, may want to hurt you. Turning to the Internet to make new friends can be dangerous. Talk to someone who cares about you, like a friend, a parent, teacher, or coach when you need a friend.