The world outside our front door isn’t the only unpredictable place that needs to be carefully monitored.

 

Sometimes the most dangerous place can be right inside our own homes, a group dedicated to safe and secure Internet surfing said yesterday.

 

"The Internet is a great thing,” Peter Morin, past-president of the High Technology Crime Investigation Association’s Atlantic Canadian chapter, said last night before a public forum on how to be web smart at a Dartmouth hotel. “(But) just like the streets are policed, the Internet has to be policed/ You have to be mindful of what kids are doing and that way they’ll get the best out of it and it’s not going to hurt them.”

 

Morin’s group hosted the forum to raise awareness about the risks lurking online, inviting a range of experts -- from members of the provincial RCMP’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit to Noni Classen, director of education for cybertip.ca. Everyone aged 12 or older was welcome, but younger children weren’t allowed to attend because of the adult content discussed.

And even for adults, some of the information shared by Classen was disturbing indeed. She pointed to one child abuse case in which pictures of a four-year-old girl being sexually abused were uploaded to the Internet and propagated more than 800,000 times in an 18-month period.

Other stats show 69.3 per cent of confirmed sexual abuse images are of children less than eight years old, while 86.5 per cent are younger than 11, or “pre-pubescent,” she said. One pedophile wrote online, “When I capture their image, I capture a piece of time that not even their own mommies will have. They stay for young forever, just for us ‘pedos.’ The vidcam makes them our eternal slaves.”

Classen said children need to learn not only to avoid strangers on the streets, but to be aware of “strangeness,” or strange behaviour online. For more tips, visit Cybertips.