Protect Yourself in a Wired World
BY CHRISTINE ROSS
Canada's leading expert in cyber safety told a Kingston audience that anyone can be a victim of internet crime.
Rob Nickel, a former 14-year police veteran of the Ontario Provincial Police, who spent years working undercover with pedophiles, now travels across the world speaking to students and parents to raise awareness. His crusade has landed him guest appearances on both Oprah and Dr. Phil television shows.
The April 24th stop in Kingston was Nickel's final stop of a two week speaking tour across Canada offering tips to stay safe. The retired Detective from the OPP Child Pornography Section shared dark and shocking stories from real life criminal investigations - holding nothing back, because he believes children and adults need to be informed so they can make good choices.
Current statistics indicate 20% of children in grade 4 have their own Facebook account (social networking site). The number doubles to 43 % for students in grade 8 and 9. Using one of these sites, Nickel demonstrated to the audience how quickly personal information can be tracked. It took just over one minute to find the address, phone number and other personal information of a young person, simply by surfing online. Pedophiles use these new tools to find their victims.
Rob Nickel's number one piece of advice - keep computers out of children's bedrooms, or any location where kids are alone. If parents are not tech savvy, he recommends they surf the Internet with their children.
A new trend called "sexting", where sexually explicit images are sent via cell phone, is increasing. These photos are often posted online, easily viewed by sex offenders.
This workshop was sponsored by the Healing Violence Committee of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. The congregation is continuing its ongoing commitment to advocating for victims of violence. A corporate stance was ratified in April 2007, which reads in part, .. "we will advocate for policies and programs that lead to eradication, prevention and healing."