Juneau police warn parents, children to be careful on the Internet

Posted: Sunday, November 06, 2005

Juneau is geographically shielded from the outside world, but according to some local officials the city's youth are still susceptible to predators who lurk in the virtual reality of the World Wide Web.

Juneau police officer Troy Wilson, a sergeant in charge of investigations, said parents should watch the type of information their children are releasing on the Internet, particularly personal contact information.

"Certainly there are sexual predators out there who are trying to find out information like that," he said.

Wilson said Juneau has not eluded the new variations of crimes that have come about since the Internet revolution.

"We have had arrests for child pornography (possession) in town," he said.

A known pedophile from Anchorage also has been arrested in the new millennium for an attempted rendezvous with a Juneau minor arranged via the Internet, according to the police department.

"Unfortunately, we do get kids from time to time who may be victimized," Wilson said.

The Juneau Police Department has a forensic computer examiner who can examine the internal workings of a computer and extract possible illegal material from the machine's hard drive. The department is also part of Internet Crimes Against Children in Alaska, a statewide network of law enforcement officials that collaborates on interstate Internet crime investigations.

Wilson said putting personal contact information on Web sites is different than posting it in a phone book.

"I think it certainly gives people an idea of where they live and by knowing that they could possibly get other information about the students and their families," he said.

Barbara Kelly-Page, the Juneau-Douglas High School computer technician, said parents should talk to their children about proper use of the Internet.

"Parents should pay attention to what their kids are doing and what they are using their computers for," she said.

Kelly-Page said putting computers in highly trafficked areas and checking computers' history logs are good ways of knowing what types of sites children are accessing.

She said parents and children should be wary of who they are interacting with because the person might not be who they say they are.

"Their kids are posting pictures of themselves and a lot of personal information - where they live, how old they are, how to get a hold of them," Kelly-Page said. "They have no idea who's logging on, (falsely stating) that they are a 15- or 16-year-old boy and cruising for a girl in Juneau."

• Eric Morrison can be reached at eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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