Internet safety meeting slated
Parents, it might be time to be students of the Internet.
Next week will feature an Internet safety course with lessons on popular social networking Web sites such as myspace.com and programs such as Xbox Live.
Electronic communication of the bad sort has surfaced in news reports of Mark Foley, a disgraced Republican Florida congressman who quit his post after allegations he used e-mails and text messaging to speak sexually with a teenage boy.
Closer to home, Karsten Gronwold, a former teacher in Lake Tahoe Unified School District, was arrested last month when investigators allegedly found child pornography on two of his Internet accounts, including myspace.com.
While the two-hour session was held last year at St. Theresa Catholic School, a winter storm might have impeded some to attend. Next week’s session will also be held at the St. Theresa school and lead by El Dorado County sheriff’s Detective Dave Lawrence, who recommended parents leave their children at home if they decide to attend.
Like he did last year, Lawrence will go into a chat room disguised as a teenage girl to show parents the onslaught of communication from others, mostly males.
Besides myspace.com, Lawrence will also talk of programs such as Xbox Live, which allows users to play video games with others online and speak to them via headsets.
Lawrence referenced the arrest of a 26-year-old Placerville man last December who used Xbox Live to befriend a 14-year-old boy in Santa Rosa. Ronnie Brendan Watts then traveled to Santa Rosa to meet the youth but was arrested on suspicion of performing a lewd act on a child and sending harmful matter to seduce a minor.
“In all reality most parents are pretty clueless about how their kids use the Internet,” said Lawrence, also a member of the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force, which investigated and arrested Gronwold on Sept. 1.
Bob Lozito, lieutenant of the task force, said parents need to be aware of how, and where, their children explore the Internet.
“You wouldn’t want your child playing in an environment such as an old construction site or what have you without knowing about it first,” he said.
The session is in partnership with St. Theresa Catholic School and Lake Tahoe Unified School District.
“It’s meant to educate the children, it’s meant to educate the parents and it’s more and more because of the way our technology is advancing,” said Lisa Huard, safe schools coordinator for Lake Tahoe Unified School District.