Protect Yourself in a Wired World

Rob Nickel speaking to the assembled group
Rob Nickel is globally recognized as an expert in the field of undercover investigations as they relate to the Internet.

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.

Detective Constable Stephanie Morgan of the Kingston Police
Detective Constable Stephanie Morgan of the Kingston Police, also a keynote speaker, works full time investigating internet crimes. Kingston is not isolated from crimes making headlines around the world, including cyberbullying, which has led to suicides among teens. Her investigations, that sometimes connect her with the FBI, reflect a rising trend in child pornography and cyberbullying. Often, children can't understand the consequences, and type hurtful words they'd never say face to face.

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."

Resources:
www.cybertip.ca
www.parentsonpatrol.org
www.cyber-safety.com
www.texted.ca

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