INTERNET PREDATORS-DOJ’S PROJECT SAFE CHILD INITIATIVE

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– Audio Begins –

Len Sipes: Hi and welcome from our studio in Downtown Washington, DC. This is DC Public Safety. I am your host, Leonard Sipes. Today’s program, is I think, one of the more important programs that we’ve done. We’re are going to be dealing with Internet predators. There is a coalition out there with a large number of people involved, but in this particular case it’s the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and we have Marsali Hancock who is the President of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition at our microphones. And we’re going to talk about the Department of Justice and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and their web address by the way is ikeepsafe.org. And we’ll repeat that several times throughout the program. Ladies and gentlemen, again, we really appreciate the fact that you’re listening and commenting as much as you are and watching us on the video side. We respond to all of your comments. We are now up to 1.5 million requests since the inception of the program. And we are very grateful for all of the information that you provide and all the suggestions that you provide. Feel free to either Twitter me or to go to the website and email me at Leonard.sipes@csosa.gov. That’s Leonard dot sipes – s-i-p-e-s at csosa dot gov or comment through the program. And, again, we always appreciate all the things that you are suggesting in terms of improving the program. And with that long convoluted introduction, Marsali Hancock, President of the Internet Safe Coalition, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Marsali Hancock: Thank you. Appreciate it.

Len Sipes: Did I get the name right?

Marsali Hancock: It’s so close, it’s Internet Keep Safe Coalition, but the name was right on. Marsali Hancock.

Len Sipes: Marsali. You see, ladies and gentlemen, I was struggling. She told me Parsley and it was Marsali. Marsali Hancock, President of the Internet Safe Coalition.

Marsali Hancock: Keep Safe.

Len Sipes: Keep Safe Coalition. Okay, I need to write that down.

Marsali Hancock: There you go.

Len Sipes: Tell me the whole issue of predators, online predators. Now, this is a sticky issue, I think, because we all know that there are sex offenders out there.

Marsali Hancock: Yes.

Len Sipes: And we read about sex offenders just about every single day in the newspaper. But my contention is this, and the contention I think of research is this, is that the majority of the people who we call sex offenders are not known to the criminal justice system. And they have a sexual predisposition towards children. They’re going to gravitate, they’re going to go to where kids are. Where minors are. They’re either going to go to a playground, they’re going to go to a ballgame, they’re going to go a library, or they’re going to go to the Internet, correct?

Marsali Hancock: Correct. Absolutely.

Len Sipes: Okay. And tell me about that. Why go to the Internet?

Marsali Hancock: Well, the Internet is a place where children spend time. And a predator who is looking to engage in a child’s relationship, they look to the Internet to be able to groom them. So it’s incredibly rare that someone would be connected to a predator and then by deceit they would meet them because you pretended to be a young child and they’re the very same age. Usually when you look at the cases of children who have been victimized, it’s someone who has groomed them, talked to them, built a relationship and by the time the child is victimized, they may even know they’re a much older adult. So being able to take the time with your children to be sure that you are aware of the people that they’re conversing with is really critical.

Len Sipes: And that becomes a basic issue of protecting your children. You know, you and I were talking before the program when I would go and try to deal with my daughters in terms of their Internet use. And it was like, you know, dad, I already know about that. When I started talking about sexual predators out there, and the fact that they use the Internet, and there is a high probability that sooner or later, depending upon your time online, you’re going to come into contact with one. And, you know, at the end they were just looking at me like I had 53 heads ,

Marsali Hancock: Eye rolling. It’s the eye rolling.

Len Sipes: Oh, it was like, oh, dad, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard anybody say in my entire life. Would you please stop that? Give me my space. Don’t you trust me? And you, as a parent, you really have to fight hard, don’t you, in terms of making sure your kids are being safe on the Internet?

Marsali Hancock: You know, as parents, we have to work hard to be sure that our child is safe about everything in their environment. And that includes the Internet. And we didn’t have people modeled to us. My parents didn’t model to me how to be a parent in the digital environment. So we’re the first generation that has to do it. And for many children, and I’ve had that eye rolling at my house, it’s like, oh, mom, why do you have to be an Internet safety person.

Len Sipes: There you go, I like that, say that again. Oh, mom! (Laughs).

Marsali Hancock: It’s the eye rolling.

Len Sipes: Oh, dad!

Marsali Hancock: But something that can be reassuring is that research shows that parents who have a conversation with their child about online risks, those children are six times less likely to be victimized online. So conversations ,

Len Sipes: Well, that’s what the research says I think generally , what we’ve been saying, we in the criminal justice community have been saying in the crime prevention community have been saying for years, is that you need to have age appropriate conversations with your children.

Marsali Hancock: All the way from the beginning.

Len Sipes: All the way from the beginning, in terms of the realities that they are going to face. Not to frighten them, but to simply inform them. They’ve got to know that if something happens to them that makes them either feel uncomfortable or somebody victimizes them that you are going to be wide open to them coming to you and something that makes them fearful, something that makes them suspicious or, my God, an actual victimization that you will always be there for them, there’s nothing that they can say, nothing that they can do to scare you as a child away from that communication with the parents. And that’s what we were told to say when we were discussing this issue, to be sure that parents had that age appropriate conversation and that they, and be sure the child fully understands that it doesn’t matter what happens, they come to the parents.

Marsali Hancock: Well, that brings up some very important and critical points. And one is that the child sees you as a resource for help and support. And statistics show that kids don’t talk about it when something goes wrong. Because they’re afraid that their parents would unplug them from the Internet. And their emotional connection ,

Len Sipes: Oh, wow.

Marsali Hancock: , to the Internet so big that they would rather suffer alone ,

Len Sipes: I just realized that. I just realized that. I mean, it’s one thing simply saying that the coach of the football team put their hand where it shouldn’t. Maybe it was accidental. Maybe it’s not. But there’s, well, maybe he loses access to the ball team and maybe that’s a big concern to him. But that just struck me. You’ve said something that I never quite understood before that, I mean, look at my allegiance to the Internet. I’m an Internet junkie.

Marsali Hancock: (Laughs). So am I.

Len Sipes: You know? Between the Internet and between iPods and having mobile access to the Internet through your Blackberry or through your iPhone. You know, we love the Internet. We’re wired to the Internet. So are our kids. And so yeah, I would say that that’s probably an amazingly insightful point of view that if the child says, if I say something about this event that was, that causes me a certain amount of discomfort they’re going to stop me from using the Internet.

Marsali Hancock: Right. Well, kids are absolutely emotionally connected to their friends through the digital environment. So it’s no just the Internet, it can be also through their cell phones, through text messaging. And when you pull a child offline, you basically pull them off of their culture, their friends. So it’s not like the old days were you just got grounded for a day. It means that all communication between teens sometimes shuts down if they don’t have access to the digital environment. So what happens with this environment is if children feel like they’re going to lose access to their friends and their emotional support that they get through the Internet through their friends, then they’re not going to come to you when they have something that’s gone wrong. So the goal of the parent is to be a springboard of support, which means you start conversations early, help them recognize the true nature of the Internet. So the Internet is never private. And the children who get into the biggest trouble online are already the kids who are at risk offline. So it’s the kids whose parents ,

Len Sipes: Wait a minute ,

Marsali Hancock: , don’t communicate with them ,

Len Sipes: Ah.

Marsali Hancock: , are the greatest risk.

Len Sipes: Ah.

Marsali Hancock: So if you can be a parent who gets activated and engaged in your child’s digital life, you reduce their odds of being victimized exponentially.

Len Sipes: Well, that always seems to be the key issue here. Having that frank age appropriate non fearful conversation starting off at what age? Three?

Marsali Hancock: As they learn ,

Len Sipes: Four?

Marsali Hancock: , use technology, that’s when you start conversations.

Len Sipes: Right.

Marsali Hancock: And the more you talk to your child, the better your conversations will be. And they’re not just those one little random conversations every now and then of so, what are you doing online? But kids talk to each other about digital technology all the time in overlapping conversations. So they’re tutoring each other about digital conversations.

Len Sipes: Right.

Marsali Hancock: So as parents we have to learn a few new things. So we’ve got a few of the right nouns that set a little bit of context so we can actually carry on a conversation. And this is one area where parents need to remember they’ll never have to be as technically savvy to help protect their child online. Parents have what children don’t, which is an activated frontal lobe. Children’s brain, the CEO of their brain, their frontal lobe, is not fully developed, sometimes until they’re 22. So just because you have a teenager who can write code and is terrific with technology, it doesn’t mean you step away and you let them travel alone without any adult interaction.

Len Sipes: And I’m going to suggest something. I think, quite frankly, this sense of the kids – this is just a personal opinion, but the kids coming up really know a lot about technology. I don’t think they do. I think they know how to use the Internet. I think they know how to text message. But I, as an old fogy parent of two daughters know a thousand times more about the Internet and technology than they do. But, yes, they know how to work the Internet, they know how to search the Internet, they know how to use email, they know how to text message, but, you know, that’s pretty much the extent. So I think a lot of parents say to themselves, I’m not match for my child regarding this particular venue. I could deal with, you know, the stranger at the playground. I could deal with the coach of the little league team, but I can’t deal with the Internet. Yes you can. Because your kids really don’t know that much more than you do. That’s my personal opinion of parents getting over their fear of the Internet.

Marsali Hancock: Well, it’s important to get over the fears of the Internet. Absolutely. But as a parent of boys who write code and match together files ,

Len Sipes: Really? They write code?

Marsali Hancock: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: Oh, jeez. Okay.

Marsali Hancock: You know, so every parent ,

Len Sipes: My kids don’t write code.

Marsali Hancock: They have to overcome their own, their own set of challenges. And mostly it’s mental inside because we don’t feel necessarily comfortable about technology and the terms about it, then we might not feel that comfortable jumping in. But here’s the reality. There are very few children who are victimized by sexual predators. But when they are it is almost always because they are a child without an adult looking over and looking after them. And that child is talking to people online about sex. That’s the big predisposer. So if you have a child who is talking to someone online about sex, that’s like a big red flag, just put a flag on top of their head that says this is a person who could be open.

Len Sipes: But the principle issue here, and we’ve been saying this long before there was Internet access, that the principle issue here is needing to have those channels of communication open with a child and at three and four and five and six it’s not a problem. Seven, eight, nine, but boy, when they get into adolescence, when they become older, it does become difficult to manage that whole process, but manage you must. And that level of conversation and that openness and that plea, that promise that regardless of whatever happens to you, daughter, or whatever happens to you, son, come to me. I don’t care what it is. You come to me and tell me about it. I will never turn you away. I will never push you away. I will always embrace you and I will always protect you. And to say that what, once a month?

Marsali Hancock: Well, I wish we had a magic number. And we knew what each child needed always. But for a child to recognize that their parents care about them and care about what they post online helps to set the framework for a dialogue that will help lifelong relationships.

Len Sipes: In drug use, in terms of sexual encounters, in terms of homework. That does seem to be the key. And, you know, there’s not a lot of magic in life. Not a lot of magic formulas. That does seem to be one, keeping that open line of communication with your children. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re talking to Marsali. Sort of like Parsley. I have to say that every time now.

Marsali Hancock: (Laughs).

Len Sipes: Marsali Hancock. The President of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition. One of the things that you want to do is go to their website, which is www.knowwheretheygo.org. Marsali is operating under a Department of Justice grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. There are wonderful people over there who are working hard on a wide variety of fronts in terms of getting the word out about not just Internet safety but child safety across the board. Now the I Keep Safe Coalition, how did the I Keep Safe Coalition become involved in all of this?

Marsali Hancock: Well, in the Internet Keep Safe Coalition was started primarily to help provide tools and resources for parents and educators to help children use the Internet in a safe and healthy manner. So being able to help young children, particularly the early users, so the time to talk to children about Internet safety, security and ethics is as they use the technology. So you don’t want to put a child on the Internet, wait for five or six or seven years and then when they’re in middle school or high school say, oh, by the way ,

Len Sipes: Oh, by the way ,

Marsali Hancock: , there’s security risks.

Len Sipes: Right.

Marsali Hancock: And there’s ethic risks. And now we have to talk about technology and it’s a public forum. You start these conversations very early. One of the most effective ways to do that is to help your child learn that everything done on the Internet leaves a permanent digital record. It is a public forum. And there are many children and parents who don’t recognize that everything you post online creates a digital footprint, a reputation. And that’s going to be an asset for you or a liability for you in future academic and employment opportunities. But in specific relationship to predators, what you post about yourself and about the conversations you have, if you have a child talking about sexual oriented information that is a huge red flag. And predators are looking for that. They troll for that.

Len Sipes: Yeah. They troll for that. They specifically , let’s talk about how they troll for that. What do we mean? So are they going on to MySpace? Are they going on to FaceBook? Are they going on to Twitter? Are they going on to message boards where kids congregate? What are they doing and where are they looking and what are they doing?

Marsali Hancock: They look where they have easy access to children. So any ,

Len Sipes: Any child related site.

Marsali Hancock: Right. Anywhere where they can become a virtual friend, where they can build ,

Len Sipes: Anywhere were you can have ,

Marsali Hancock: , emotional ,

Len Sipes: , conversation with a younger individual on the Internet. So it doesn’t matter where it is.

Marsali Hancock: No. That’s right.

Len Sipes: It could be anyplace. It could be church site for all we know.

Marsali Hancock: Especially a church site because anything that allows you to quickly develop trust would be something that would be a priority for a predator. But here’s some information that I thought was interesting. This week Cosmo launched, did some, did a study that one out of five girls has posted a sexy photo of themselves, either through their cell phone or through the Internet.

Len Sipes: That’s amazing.

Marsali Hancock: One in five. I know, I have daughters. I was really shocked.

Len Sipes: That’s inviting hundreds of thousands ,

Marsali Hancock: That’s a red flag.

Len Sipes: , of individuals to comment. That’s a very, that is a red flag.

Marsali Hancock: Well, it’s a red flag not only because of the potential predator, but because those images are child porn. I had a great conversation with the District Attorney in a state where he had multiple cases. So there were something close to 60 families, over 20 arrests, of children who had created their own child porn. So images of themselves. And there’s mandatory sentencing. And mandatory procedures when you’re dealing with online sexual victimization of a child. So even if a child takes a nude photo of themselves, it doesn’t mean they’re exempt from mandatory pieces from the law.

Len Sipes: Correct. Correct.

Marsali Hancock: So for parents who have not talked to their child exactly what they mean by good use of their cell phone and digital images put up on the Internet, those kids are at risk. And the kids that are at risk are the ones who feel like, this is my private world, with just my friends, or it’s just people that I want to have contact with. And forgetting that mom ,

Len Sipes: Right. Right. I control this.

Marsali Hancock: , and grandma and my teachers and police and others have access to things that I put up on the Internet.

Len Sipes: It’s like my daughter, an ice storm, when she was driving a whole two weeks and I told her that I would come down and get her. And she responded, why?

Marsali Hancock: Right? (Laughs).

Len Sipes: Why? You know, she’s ..

Marsali Hancock: No frontal lobe on that one. No frontal lobe on that one.

Len Sipes: Two weeks driving. And it’s an ice storm. And she’s, why are you coming? This is embarrassing. I’m not a baby anymore. This is two weeks driving in an ice storm, well, I don’t have to explain it. And so kids have this inflated, unrealistic sense of their own sense of danger. They really do.

Marsali Hancock: Well, that’s the frontal lobe. So they actually physically can not process risk. They don’t have the capacity. And that’s why parents must be engaged with their child’s digital life. If you don’t know what your child is posting and if you don’t know with whom they’re communicating, that child is at risk.

Len Sipes: The partnership, again, how many people are involved in the partnership? It’s the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and I’ve got some real good friends over there. Very wonderful people. It’s the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, there’s lots of other people involved in this, correct?

Marsali Hancock: Yes. There’s I Know Better from St. Louis, and there’s also the Hispanic Communication Network that have all participated ,

Len Sipes: Right. And you guys have put out some great public service announcements. I’ve seen them. Extremely impressive. I’m going to start using them in the television shows that we will do this year.

Marsali Hancock: Great! Thank you.

Len Sipes: But I mean it is just a wonderful place to go and give additional information at ikeepsafe.org. ikeepsafe.org. www.ikeepsafe.org. In terms of reading from the press release issued by the Department of Justice of the Internet crimes against children taskforce says, since the program’s inception in 1998, the taskforces have reviewed nearly 200,000 complaints resulting in the arrest of almost 11,000 individuals across the country intent on sexually abusing children. In fiscal year 2007 alone the investigations led to more than 2,350 arrests and more than 10,500 forensic examinations. And I have no idea as to the different people who are listening to those numbers right now, but that’s an extreme undercount. That is not even the tip of the iceberg. Because the great majority of individuals known to be victimizing children are not known to the criminal justice system.

Marsali Hancock: That’s true. That’s correct.

Len Sipes: We don’t know who they are. And in some cases it takes decades for them to surface if it does at all. How many times have we had teachers who, you know, great honorable teachers, loved by the community and certainly something happens and the flood gates open and suddenly 20 or 30 people come forward to provide additional information.

Marsali Hancock: Well, that brings up a very good point that many times a child has been victimized online actually knows the perpetrator offline.

Len Sipes: Ah. So now that’s something else I’ve never heard of. You’re a wonderful interview. This ,

Marsali Hancock: And that’s a much more, that’s a much more realistic scenario.

Len Sipes: Ah.

Marsali Hancock: It’s very rare. Incredibly rare that someone actually reaches out, creates a false identity and then tricks the child into meeting him.

Len Sipes: So they’re using the Internet as ,

Marsali Hancock: As another form of abuse.

Len Sipes: , a method of additional confidential so the child thinks.

Marsali Hancock: That’s right.

Len Sipes: Form of contact.

Marsali Hancock: So here’s an example. There’s a case in Virginia, the predator was actually a teacher in a school.

Len Sipes: Right.

Marsali Hancock: And he had some, he had a fake profile on a social networking site where he lured young boys that he knew offline. So he knew these kids.

Len Sipes: Mmm?

Marsali Hancock: So he could entrap them. They, he says, well, and now the boys think this is a very attractive girl.

Len Sipes: Right.

Marsali Hancock: And because he knows enough about them, he can create the sense of trust.

Len Sipes: Oh, so he doesn’t necessarily have to identify himself, he knows these kids and creates ,

Marsali Hancock: He gets them to do something stupid and then he can blackmail them.

Len Sipes: Ah!

Marsali Hancock: So he gets them to send inappropriate images of themselves doing activities that would be, you know, put up as child porn. And then once he has those images then he blackmails them.

Len Sipes: But he presents himself as a girl. He knows their circumstances but he masks who he is but he knows enough. He knows that this is a potentially vulnerable individual, so this will give you the opportunity of going after him or her.

Marsali Hancock: So if a lovely girl that they think is a girl say to them; if you do A, B, C and send me a webcam image of it, then I will send back to you a picture of me and , you know, X, Y, Z. So boys without a frontal lobe in this area would be entrapped. And rather than tell, rather than tell, they would be victimized. But here’s the tragedy, because it had been multiple victims of kids right in the very own same school, they didn’t find him because of one of the children. They found him on a sting operation just trolling, looking.

Len Sipes: You know, again, when I was working for the State of Maryland and when we were putting up a sex offender database and I sat down with people who are experts in this field, and that’s one of the things that they told me, that they, the trick here is to get the child, is to entrap the child.

Marsali Hancock: Right.

Len Sipes: And to create some sort of scenario that where the offender says to the child, you know, now your parents are going to find you disgusting. They’re never going to trust you again. You have really done something terrible. Where that adult suddenly becomes the keeper of the secret and the only person that the child can, in a sick sort of way, sort of trust because the two of them share this secret.

Marsali Hancock: They have a dark secret, that’s right. It’s a tragic, tragic ,

Len Sipes: And they were telling me about, as far as they were concerned, tens of thousands of kids, we’re not talking about a hard count here, it’s nothing more than a guess, but certainly thousands of kids being held in psychological bondage by individuals who are child sex offenders. Child sex predators. And where a child would go through years, from age five to age nine, to age ten, held in this unbelievable psychological entrapment. And at the same time being victimized by this individual. That is a burden, to say that no child should bear is today’s understatement, but that is such a profound set of circumstances for that child to be in. And everything you’re saying is that the Internet is the new ay of accomplishing that.

Marsali Hancock: It’s just the same. It’s the new vehicle for the very same type of horrible things that have gone on with children in the past. It just provides another vehicle of entrapment for the child, particularly when the threat is well, I’ll make these videos public or I’ll make these images public and I’ll ruin your life and all of your friends will know what type of person you are and that you sent these to me.

Len Sipes: Right. And you would rather die,

Marsali Hancock: They would , they choose to be ,

Len Sipes: , than to ,

Marsali Hancock: , victimized rather than to tell.

Len Sipes: , go through that level of humiliation.

Marsali Hancock: Right. So this is where it comes to the parent. So what could you actually do to help catch that? Or to intervene, or to be able to step in and be a support, especially something like that scenario with the Virginia students. So you know you have a healthy teenage boy and he’s going to do something stupid, so how as a parent can you intervene at the right time?

Len Sipes: Okay. Tell me.

Marsali Hancock: So here’s a few statistics. There are, there is – over 60 percent of the mothers worry more about what their kids do online than they do about when their child walks out the door. So it’s this overall anxiety. But only 48 percent say they have no clue what their child does online and only 15 percent of them actually use software tools to help them. So here’s the missing link. Parents have anxiety about what their child does online, but they haven’t taken the time or the resources to invest a little bit of energy to find out how can I work with my child to monitor what they do.

Len Sipes: Okay. How could they do that?

Marsali Hancock: They can buy software that will allow this.

Len Sipes: Now, you’re saying buy software and there’s a whole bunch of people out there going, oh, my God, no, don’t tell me to buy software!

Marsali Hancock: Well, there’s also free pieces of software.

Len Sipes: No, no, no, I meant … I was simply saying that there is an intimidation factor here. Tell me about that.

Marsali Hancock: I know. Right. So parents can be intimidated by technology. But if you have children on technology, knock, knock, knock, someone has to be the parent. And you have to assume ,

Len Sipes: So you can always get a friend to install the thing if you have an issue with that.

Marsali Hancock: And how you learn to manage it.

Len Sipes: What will that give you?

Marsali Hancock: It will give you a vehicle of communication to let your child know that you’re checking what they are posting online. And the reason is that you want that child to recognize everything they post is public. And it will effect their future academic and employment and you want that child to recognize that you care enough about them to help them make wise choices.

Len Sipes: And to recognize that they have the frontal lobe, you know, issue.

Marsali Hancock: Yes, they do have their frontal conversation.

Len Sipes: And sometimes you have to step in and help them regardless of whether they want to be helped or not.

Marsali Hancock: No. Children never want to be interrupted. And particularly if they feel like the Internet is their private world.

Len Sipes: Right.

Marsali Hancock: So if they feel that their chat logs are private, or their instant messages are private, or their text messages are private, they’re completely confused. So a parent has over empowered that child to have them think that something done digitally is their own private communication.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Marsali Hancock: It isn’t.

Len Sipes: They can buy the software. What else can they do?

Marsali Hancock: They can look.

Len Sipes: They can look.

Marsali Hancock: So checking. There’s three ,

Len Sipes: Can they do that?

Marsali Hancock: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: As a parent can you walk into a child’s room and look at what they’re looking at.

Marsali Hancock: Good grief, you mean a real parent?

Len Sipes: (Laughs).

Marsali Hancock: (Laughs). Yes, absolutely.

Len Sipes: Really? Okay.

Marsali Hancock: There’s three good concepts that every parent needs to just settle into, take a little quiet time and figure out how to do it within your own value system.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Marsali Hancock: The first is to keep current with the technology your child uses. You don’t have to be a techno wiz. You just have to be current with the technology your child is actually using.

Len Sipes: In other words if they’re texting on a cell phone then you got to ,

Marsali Hancock: Then look at it.

Len Sipes: Look at it.

Marsali Hancock: Yes. I was at Washington State, not too long ago, and the U.S. Attorney had intervened, one of his law officers had intervened, a mother had just happened to be reviewing the text log from her daughter’s phone and it turns out a predator had been sending nude images of himself and he had been developing this relationship with the young teenage daughter, a very young teen. Early, early. And if the mother had not taken the time to review the images or the text, the daughter would have voluntarily met with this adult. So meanwhile the mother looks at the phone, she calls the police, the police assume the , the identity of the daughter. Now that predator is behind bars.

Len Sipes: Good.

Marsali Hancock: And a mother was doing what mothers do which is checking in ,

Len Sipes: Good. Good.

Marsali Hancock: You know, I look in the backyard if my kids are playing in the yard. You know, it’s part of the culture of what do as parents.

Len Sipes: Well, we’ll do it, you know, we know how to ask about our kids’ friends. We know about asking where they are. What they’re doing. And those sort of bullheaded stubborn parents who get in there and fight for their kids, again, the clear research is that they generally save the kids from doing a lot of silly and stupid things.

Marsali Hancock: Yes. It helps.

Len Sipes: It helps tremendously.

Marsali Hancock: So communicating is that first key.

Len Sipes: Communicating. Right.

Marsali Hancock: Now keeping current is the first key. So the first is to keep current with the technology. Then it’s communicating. So second is communicating. But you can’t really communicate until you are current with the technology. So you have to do a little bit of homework yourself. Talk to other moms. You know, it’s okay to say I’m not all that confident.

Len Sipes: Or go to www.knowwheretheygo.org.

Marsali Hancock: Absolutely go to knowwheretheygo.org. And the third is to keep checking. You check so your kids have this engraved in their brain that everything on the Internet leaves a public record. You can never erase anything.

Len Sipes: If you post that racy photo of yourself ,

Marsali Hancock: It will be somewhere in the cache world forever.

Len Sipes: For the rest of your life.

Marsali Hancock: As long as there is electricity on the planet.

Len Sipes: (Laughs) As long as there is electricity on the planet. That is, that’s a profound thought, isn’t it?

Marsali Hancock: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: That what you post at 15 will be there when you talk to your daughters (chuckle) at age 35 to, you know ..

Marsali Hancock: Your reputation will follow you everywhere you go. Every job application. All of ,

Len Sipes: That’s a great way of putting it. Boy, you have ten tons of good points.

Marsali Hancock: I have children.

Len Sipes: That’s great.

Marsali Hancock: I’ve been practicing.

Len Sipes: That’s great. That’s great. That’s great. No, but I think there’s a lot of things that you have brought up today that are powerful. And that’s one of them. You know, that image, whatever it is, it’s not like they go out and do something goofy with their friends and that’s it. It’s done and over with and it’s a simply housed in the memories of those individuals. With the Internet it’s not. It’s a permanent record that’s going to stay with you for the rest of your life.

Marsali Hancock: So here’s how this plays out.

Len Sipes: Wow.

Marsali Hancock: So this is a true story. A young college freshman got the big baseball scholarship that he had been wanting all of his life. He won it.

Len Sipes: Oh, lord.

Marsali Hancock: It was his first year, he was playing on the team, he was doing great. He went to a party, he was drinking a beer at this party like a lot of freshmen do at college, which is actually underage drinking, which is actually illegal, but someone posted his picture with his beer in his hand in a social networking site. The University was made aware of it, he’d lost the scholarship and dropped off the team. He was kicked off the team and lost the scholarship his freshman year.

Len Sipes: So there are profound implications for stupidity.

Marsali Hancock: Well, but, your teenager is ,

Len Sipes: You’re looking at me, the wrong word? The wrong word?

Marsali Hancock: No.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Marsali Hancock: But you’re right. Kids do stupid stuff. But they need to learn really quickly from someone they know and trust, their parents. Or someone else that has access to them that what they post is going to affect them with future opportunities.

Len Sipes: You know, Marcella , Parsley. Parsley.

Marsali Hancock: (Laughs).

Len Sipes: Boy, I keep blowin’ that. Marsali, this is a fantastic conversation. Ladies and gentlemen, I really want everybody to go to their website. And that is ikeepsafe.org. Internetkeepsafe.org. www.internetkeepsafe.org?

Marsali Hancock: ikeepsafe.org.

Len Sipes: ikeepsafe.org. And, you know, this is a profoundly interesting conversation. I want you to come back at our microphones. And, you know, ikeepsafe, and you’re the President of the organization. You’re in league with lots of other organizations, with the U.S. Department of Justice, with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in terms of an ongoing effort, wonderful PSA’s, public service announcements in terms of just doing something useful in the lives of kids and parents to keep them save. And you’ve told me three or four things, me being in the criminal justice system for 40 years, you’ve told me three or four things today that I never realized.

Marsali Hancock: Well, very good. Very good. Well, the goal is to help parents engage and know where their child goes online. So the website that has those PSA’s is knowwheretheygo.org.

Len Sipes: Marsali Hancock, the President of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. Again, we really appreciate all of the letters. We really appreciate all of the emails, we appreciate all of the suggestions. And keep them coming and please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

– Audio Ends –

The show is hosted by Leonard Sipes. The producer is Timothy Barnes. Lou Ann Holland produced the show for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention.

Meta terms: Internet crime, minors, child safety, crime, criminals, criminal justice, parole, probation, prison.

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