Protecting Children on the Internet

April 10, 2003
Posted at: 8:24 p.m. CDT

POCAHONTAS, Ark. -- The Internet is a great source of information and can provide hours of entertainment for a family. But there's also a dark side. That is why law enforcement trainees took part in an Internet safety workshop held Thursday at Black River Technical College.

Police officer Rick Woody of Greenbriar received a dreadful call the night that his daughter Kacie went missing. Hours later it was determined her abduction was Internet related.

"We had discussed Internet safety: Never give anybody your real name," Woody said. "Her profile didn't even have her real name, she was extremely trusting."

Kacie was 13 years old. She was killed by a man from California she met on a chat line who posed as a 17-year-old boy .

"People don't represent themselves to be who they really are," Woody said.

Police want parents and children to be aware of the possible dangers on the other end of your screen. Computers are a resource in many homes across the nation. Officers say it's dangerous to let any stranger know your personal information over the web.

"All a predator has to do is find a real name," Woody said. "They can find an address. They can find a home. The only way to really do it is don't communicate with anyone you don't know."

Part of the today's session for would-be police officers was open to the public giving them tips on safety and sites to be careful of. One recommendation was that parents should make children aware of dangers on the Internet and to monitor their usage by placing computers in a common place, not a child's bed room.

The program was sponsored by the Arkansas State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As an officer, and a father, Rick Wood said he has a renewed purpose with new officer training.

"It's my goal to make sure this doesn't happen to anybody else's little girl," Woody said.

There have been eight arrests made this year in Arkansas related to Internet predators.