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Internet guardian visits station to open parent’s eyes

By Pfc. M. Daniel Sanchez | | June 16, 2006

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An Internet privacy and security lawyer visited the station Friday and Saturday to provide station families, personnel and law enforcement officials with the knowledge and tools necessary for safe use of the Net.

Parry Aftab, an executive director of WiredSafety.org, the world’s largest online safety and educational program in cyberspace, spoke to children of station personnel and the surrounding area Friday at the youth center’s lock-in.

Aftab spoke with the children to find out how much they knew about the Internet and the dangers of surfing the Net.

Aftab also sat down with 11 children and videotaped her conversations with them to show the difference in knowledge about the Internet the children had.

Aftab asked various questions about how the children spent their time on the Net.
She also asked about the people they chatted with and how the children represented themselves while they were on the Net.

After the interviews were conducted, Aftab spoke to the entire group of 55 children at the
lock-in about Internet safety and the dangers of social-network sites and chat rooms.
After she spoke with the group, Aftab gathered all the children she interviewed and asked them the same questions she had previously to find the changes in their responses.

Aftab said she was very pleased with the children because they learned very quickly and were extremely helpful in suggesting ways to help children stay safe on the Net.

The interviews were shown to parents who attended the Saturday presentation to give them a glimpse into their children’s Internet habits.

Many of the parents in attendance were surprised at the children’s videos.
Kristi Bruen, attendee, said she was going to make sure she kept an open line of communication with her children to ensure they are safe when using the Net.

There was also a cyber-crime prevention lecture following the parents presentation for station Provost Marshals Office personnel and representatives from law-enforcement organizations in the surrounding community.

Ivette Birney, Marine Corps Family Team Building director, was the person responsible for bringing Aftab to the station.

Birney said she found out about Aftab after watching a newscast showcasing her organization’s efforts to protect children on the Internet.

Although Aftab usually charges for her lectures, she withdrew her standard fee and volunteered to lead her seminar here for free when Birney told her it would be for Marines and their families.

WiredSafety.org began as a spin-off organization of Cyberangels, an online safety and help group formed in 1995 by the Guardian Angels, a patrol group established to protect people in subways and underground transportation systems in New York City.

Aftab’s efforts throughout the country have helped advance cyber law and education.
Recently, more than 90 percent of her time is donated to Internet issues involving children and adults, ranging from protecting children from sex crimes online to helping adults avoid identity theft and fraud online.

“The main goal of this is to keep station (personnel) safe from all of the different crimes that are committed online daily. If you can learn to better protect yourself or your family, then her visit served its purpose,” said Birney. 

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