Church works to prevent online predators - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Church works to prevent online predators

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May 10, 2006

Albany -- You may have watched Dateline NBC's latest "To Catch a Predator" investigation. In the last two years, the special reports helped catch more than 100 sexual predators who used the internet to set up meetings with who they thought were young teenagers.

These stories are one reason people in Albany were prompted to get pro-active in preventing these crimes.

It's shocking to some, and plain sick to others. Even though predators have seen the dateline specials air on TV before, they continue trying to sexually abuse children they talk to online.

"The predators online, their purpose is to become an actual sexual predator in reality," said Lt. Craig Dodd of Dougherty County Sherriff's Department.

This group from Institutional First Baptist Church watched on TV as these predators knocked on doors, thinking they were meeting children.

"It's very sickening those grown mens take advantage of those young kids," said Barbara Shuler-Paschal.

That's why the group is holding a series of lectures on internet safety for children. Teresa Orok brought her 14-year-old daughter to the lecture so she can learn about the cyber dangers.

"Our young people need to understand that this is a very serious matter and that when you release even your own personal information it becomes more serious," Teresa Orok.

One place predators find victims is through a popular networking website called Myspace. Millions of teens login each day. As I login to my profile I can see a stranger has contacted me to be friends. Since I don't know this person I simply click deny to avoid them from being able to reach me.

Avoiding strangers online is one lesson 14-year-old Ekemini Orok will take away from tonight's discussion.

"Even if you think youre talking to someone you could be talking to someone different, it's really dangerous, so you really have to protect yourself," said Ekemini Orok.

A message from one teenager to other young people. In some cases these online friends may be a predator at your doorstep.

More than 70 percent of teens say they've met a stranger online according to a Dateline poll.

Investigators say there haven't been many reports of online predators in south Georgia yet. It has spread to other parts of the state.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=InternetSafety