Law enforcement officials have long warned a computer connected to the Internet is an open door for predators and bullies who target children.
To help parents learn how to protect their children from these dangers, the Lebanon Special School District's Family Resource Center will host the "Internet Safety for Parents" workshop Monday.
"This workshop has been offered for the last five or six years, but this year's event will be even more important for parents to attend because social media is so popular," said coordinator Beth Petty.
She said Lebanon Officer Elvis Huff will be there and share information with parents. Huff graduated in December from Middle Tennessee State University with a master's in information technology security and assurance. He will present information to parents on the different forms of cyber bullying, what parents and teens can do to reduce the occurrence of cyber bullying, Internet predator statistics, characteristics of a predator, what predators are looking for, how to elude predators, the dangers of social network sites, sexting, laws surrounding sexting and the consequences of sexting. Huff will also address parental control safety options.
Attendees will view a PowerPoint presentation by local counselor Kendall Bryan.
"Kendall actually came to us and wanted to present on this topic. In her office, she has seen the ramifications of how cyber bullying, predators, sexting and other forms of internet misuse negatively impact our children's lives. She is passionate about wanting to inform parents of the dangers involved with the Internet," Petty said. "She tells our parents there are many positives about the Internet, but wants them to know who their children are talking with and what they are talking about. Predators are willing to wait, take their time, offer gifts and forge an online relationship with children before they actually ask them to meet."
Bryan's presentation includes real-life situations from Wilson County. While no name or information that could link a child to a situation is ever divulged, Bryan wants parents to know there are many incidents in Wilson County. She will also talk about the TBI's Sex Offender Registry and how individuals should perform background checks on any new person they bring into their children's lives.
The workshop will be Monday from 6-8:30 p.m. at Castle Heights Elementary School library from. The workshop, materials, refreshments and childcare are free. Petty said professionals would be on hand to answer specific questions at the end of the workshop.
Anyone interested in attending should RSVP to Petty at 615-453-2693 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The workshop is open to anyone in Wilson and surrounding counties.