SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN ONLINE
The internet allows people from all over the world to interact with each other. It also provides an opportunity to obtain valuable information to protect people and their families from dangerous individuals – especially sexual predators. Today there are more informational resources than ever before. In an effort to keep the public updated about sexual predators living in Broward County, BSO launched its Sex Offender Locator program in 2005. While the original program has been a valuable tool for law enforcement, daycare providers and parents, we have identified areas that will expand the service far beyond that which was originally intended.
This month we are launching our enhanced Sex Offender Locator program to better serve the community. Some of the new features include the ability to:
- display both Florida state statute and city ordinances pertaining to where an offender or predator can live
- display the location of a sex offender or predator on a map and display their current picture along with their photo history
- search by an offender or predator’s first and last name
- measure the distance of an offender or predator from their residence to a child related location such as a school, daycare, park or home
- see a photo display of all the offenders who may reside at one location
Most importantly the sexual offender and predator information is updated daily vs. weekly from the FDLE web site. Users can sign up to receive e-mails when a predator or offender moves within a certain distance of their home or child’s school. I encourage parents, caregivers and school officials to take advantage of this valuable online safety tool.
While our locator helps identify the predators and offenders living in Broward County, it is important to remember some sexual predators can – and have – used the internet to find potential victims. All too often, teens chat with someone older online and eventually meet in person. It is never appropriate or safe to do so. You can do more to protect your children online, here are some suggestions:
- Keep your computer in a common area of the home where you can monitor online activity.
- Make clear to your child, which sites are acceptable to visit and which ones are not.
- If you allow your teen to have a social networking page, retain full access to the account. Remember, this is not an invasion of privacy, rather a necessary supervision to keep your child safe.
- Ensure your teen’s social networking page is marked private – accessible only to pre-approved friends and family.
I hope that you will visit www.sheriff.org/sexualpredators and explore the capabilities of our enhanced Sex Offender Locator. If you have any problems or concerns with the site, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep your families safe. Be diligent. It’s your responsibility!
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