Opelika Child Victim Of Internet Exploitation

Internet predators are a major concern for police and parents these days. A picture of an Opelika child on a pornographic web site has officers stressing computer safety. Opelika police say this is their first reported incident.

"The child was not completely disrobed in the photograph, however the web site the appears on is somewhat disturbing and alarming," said Capt. Allan Elkins, Opelika Police Department.

Elkins said the photo showed up sometime in June. He also said this is a reminder for parents to keep a close eye on their children's online habits.

"It's estimated that there are approximately 35 million children between the ages of 10 and 17 who daily visit chat rooms," Elkins said.

Carmitta Collier has two children who love getting online, but limits them to a half-hour while she monitors their activity. She said chat rooms are off-limits.

"If we do come over that area, we'll sit down and tell them how dangerous it is. Once you come across that and somebody talks to you like that, come get me, and we'll sit down at the computer and exit out," Collier said.

Collier said it's shocking to hear a child in Opelika has been violated in this manner, but an old lesson applies to today's technology.

"When we were growing up, we weren't allowed to talk to strangers. We were told to ignore strangers, or let the parents know what was going on and just walk away," she said.

To help educate parents about Internet safety, the Opelika Police Department is offering a class through churches and civic organizations. Those groups interested in hosting the class can contact Cpl. Jason Dunson at (334)705-5251. Parents interested in the class are urged to contact a church or civic club.