Parents across east Alabama got an important lesson in cyberspace Tuesday night. The Alabama Attorney General's office showed them how to avoid online predators.
Online predators are a major concern these days for parents. The Attorney General's office is trying to help them understand what to look for in their child's Internet habits.
"I learned there's a lot of things that are going on on the Internet that I was not aware of. I plan on going home and do my research," said Daphne Farley, a mother of two.
Experts say too many children are being approached by sexual predators posing as younger people in chat rooms, or on sites such as MySpace or Facebook.
"The number of children under the age of 18 that are sexually molested, or solicited, reaches into nearly 70 percent solicited at least once," said W. Greg Price, chief technology officer for Troy University.
Price said parents need to keep computers in open areas of the house, and keep a close eye on the sites their child visits. Most of all, teach your kids as in real life, never talk to strangers.
"If someone walked up to me that I did not know, I would not reveal personal data about myself to that person. The same should hold true on the Internet," Price said.
Alabama is also requiring sex offenders to register e-mail address and web profiles.
"Since we are tracking them in the real world, their real address, we need to track them, too, in the cyber world. That's the new tool for Internet predators," said Rushing Payne, division chief for the Alabama Attorney General's Family Protection Unit.
Price estimates 50,000 sexual predators are online. Worldwide child pornography is, unfortunately, a big business. The approximate annual sales is $20 billion, and pornography accounts for 25 percent of all Internet searches.