Mom: Valley kids not safe online
EDWARDS – About a month ago, Martha Carleton’s 14-year-old tried to leave the family’s Edwards home to rendezvous at Wal-Mart with a man from Denver named Edgar, who she met online.Carleton stopped her from leaving the house.”You can’t meet somebody we don’t know,” Carleton told her.”I know him from the Internet,” she said.”No, no, no. You’re not going,” Carleton replied.Carleton said her daughter met Edgar on a vampire Web site similar in format to MySpace, an online service that allows people to create and share a personal Web site with friends and strangers.Now, Carleton said she thinks valley parents falsely believe their children are safe from online predators.”I never thought this would happen to us,” she said. “I thought my kids were smart enough and I thought we were well educated as parents.”Carleton said the problems likely began when her daughter got a laptop computer for a Christmas gift. Her daughter began taking the laptop into her room and talking online with other people.After the “Edgar” incident, the mother of two began monitoring her daughter’s online activity more closely. “We’re very fortunate because she’ been very forthright with us,” Carleton said. “She opened up after she saw how scared her parents were.”Carleton and her husband periodically ask their daughter to see her e-mails and try to catch a glimpse of her screen to see what she’s doing.Tracking the predatorsEagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy has started a program to combat online sexual predators. It’s headed by Deputy Tamra Blackard, who poses as a 12-year-old girl to lure sexual predators in online chat rooms. She also provides information to the public about how to avoid online predators.”This is exactly what our mission is – to educate the parents,” Blackard said. “(Carleton) was educated enough. Our mission is to educate everybody like she is.”The sort of planned rendezvous Carleton’s daughter made is typical of the way predators meet potential victims in person. “The first thing they do is build a friendship with somebody online,” Blackard said. “When they feel like the person trusts them, they go meet somebody.”Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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