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Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

Internet safety to be addressed

Friday, April 6, 2007

(Photo)
Andy McGill, Sikeston R-6 Schools/Cadet coordinator, Eddie Lowrey, R-6 networks administrator, and Dr. Larry Bohannon, decide the set up of the Internet Safety Night.
SIKESTON -- At first glance, the following acronyms -- POS, PIR, PAL, PAW or LMIRL -- may seem safe.

But their meanings -- Parent Over Shoulder, Parent In Room, Parents Are Listening, Parents Are Watching and Let's Meet In Real Life -- can be much more harmful than they read.

According to NetLingo.com, these are five of the top 20 Internet acronyms every parent should know.

So if they didn't ring a bell, maybe parents and their children in the Sikeston R-6 School District should consider attending Internet Safety Night beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Sikeston High School library.

The school district is one of about 15 others in the state taking part in the main event in Columbia via interactive video conference.

"We're trying to be proactive because -- knock on wood -- we haven't had a teenager that we know of be a victim of Internet crimes, but we don't want to be that statistic," said Dr. Larry Bohannon, assistant superintendent of secondary education and professional development.

The meeting will help parents and children understand how dangerous and harmful the Internet can be.

In addition to some Internet lingo, attendees will learn about the best resources to protect their families from cyber bullies, identity theft, online predators, harmful Web sites, etc.

"As far as the school district goes, we have a lot of protection, but many homes do not have that capability," Bohannon said.

Through the Internet, there are many opportunities to get on chat pages and meet people who are using the Internet for the wrong reasons with their main intention to lure and build a rapport with young people who aren't savvy enough to know what's happening, Bohannon said.

Parents can learn simple techniques about setting rules and guidelines with at-home computer use, such as having the computer in an open area where children have a little bit more of supervision, Bohannon said.

"The other thing I think it's going to go into is sometimes these sites won't give a name, but they give telephone, so if all of a sudden you see a telephone number you don't recognize on your phone bill, that could raise a red flag," Bohannon said.

The event, which is free to the public and the district, is hosted by Missouri Research and Education Network (MOREnet), with which Sikeston R-6 is involved.

"Sikeston had an opportunity to participate, and we jumped on it," Bohannon said. "We wanted to give parents and students more insight into problems that can occur during Internet use."

Sikeston will also feature a local panel during the conference. It will be Sgt. Shirley Porter, Sikeston R-6 school resource officer; Lt. Mike Williams, detective with Sikeston Department of Public Safety; Mary McDowell, Sikeston R-6 administrative assistant; and Charon Shy, Sikeston High School counselor.

Andy McGill, A+ Schools coordinator for Sikeston High School, is helping with the district's Internet Safety Night. He said he thinks there's a big need for education about the dangers of the Internet, especially with so many students using personal Web sites like myspace.com.

"It's something we're trying to concentrate on more at the high school because of different things that have been in the news such as child abductions, and we just want to make our kids more safe," McGill said, adding students are on the Internet a little more each year.

While Bohannon hopes there's great attendance, the district had an obligation to offer the program so the public has the capability to learn more, he said. "We would feel remiss if we didn't offer it," Bohannon said. "If it protects one child, it's more than worth it."