Local class fights porn on Internet

"With headlines about children being preyed upon by online adults becoming increasingly prevalent, Telebyte Northwest owner and Washington Association of Internet Providers president Jim Kendall thought it was time to start fighting online predators at the local level. That's why Kendall is helping put on a workshop entitled The Internet and Your Child on Oct. 21 at the Jenne-Wright Building. The day-long class will help parents identify online predators and keep them away from their children. The class is designed to give them an idea about what is out there, Kendall said. There is some indescribable bad activity online and it takes a bit to shock me. The class was conceived by Leanne Shirley, a Seattle Police detective who works on crimes against and committed by children. She started to investigate and report on online predators and the children they target. Kendall said once he started to hear about what was going on with children and predators online, he went around to local computer stores to ask what they had to protect children from unsolicited and dangerous users. When he found out they had nothing, he looked into what he could do to help parents and put on the first Internet and Your Child class last June with the help of Shirley. After the class, Kendall teamed up Roger Lundin, a computer specialist with the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle who wanted to help parents guard their children from the crimes he has seen in his office. We're not saying you should take your kids off the Internet, Lundin said. We just want parents to know that kids can be victims of what is out there. Kendall and Lundin said most online predators have had contact with an average of 100 or more children before they are caught. What makes them all the more horrific to Kendall and Lundin was that most of the time, the parents were oblivious to what their children could do online. The problem is that the Internet skipped a generation, Kendall said. Kids today know more than many adults will ever know about computers and the Internet. The class teaches adults of all computer literacy levels the keys to regulating computer use with children. Parents learn what signs to look for with their kids and what features on a computer reveal where kids have been on the Internet and who they have been talking to. Kendall said the class ends with a trip to a computer chat room, where the online user takes on the identity of a teenage girl. Kendall said the average time it takes for a predator to start approaching the user is less than a minute after they find out the user is a young girl. Although the skills might seem like an intrusion on the privacy of a child's computer use, the class makes perfect sense to Kendall who sees the Internet as a trip to New York. You wouldn't just drop your kid off in New York and say, 'Have a good time,' Kendall said. In effect, that's what you're doing with the Internet. Who knows who is out there? The Internet and Your Child adult Internet education and safety course will be held Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Jenne-Wright Building, 9210 Silverdale Way, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The course is free and open to anyone ages 18 and over. Space is limited, and knowledge of computers is not a requirement. To register or for more information, call 698-1508 or 830-5221. "

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