Child Pornography Admissions – Ronald Stevens Pleads Guilty! Comments By Teen Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher

April 7, 2008

It seems that Monday has been the day for several admissions or sentencings for Child Pornography. This one comes out of Pennsylvania where Ronald Stevens, age 42, plead guilty to receiving child pornography by downloading images of child pornography from his computer.

The investigation conducted by the FBI and Pittston Township Police are part of the Justice Department’s Project Safe Childhood initiative. In February 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

As a speaker, I often address groups on issues of teen ethics and safety. More times than not I find that parents – even those who are internet familiar – are not fully connected with how predators use the internet and other media to lure their unsuspecting prey. The unfortunate thing is that many times the damage is done before one becomes aware that the predator is on the prowl. I highly advise groups to become informed about the dangers of sexual predators and how to prevent or deter their efforts. After all, if we can’t become educated about how to protect our children – who will protect them?

Your comments are welcome!


Project Safe Childhood – Protecting Children for Sexual Predators – Comments by Teen Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher

February 4, 2008

A program in North Carolina is active in protecting children from sexual predators. Robert Martin Kutzer, age 32 from Leicester, North Carolina, was convicted of online enticement of a minor to engage in an unlawful sex act.

The jury found that Kutzer engaged in several online chat conversations with an undercover detective from the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office in a Yahoo! chat room. Evidence also showed that the defendant believed the detective to be a 14-year-old girl from Buncombe County. The jury heard evidence that Kutzer steered the online conversation to the topic of sex and that the defendant was responsible for injecting explicit and sexually graphic content into the online chat and that the defendant then arranged to meet this person whom he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. Robert Martin Kutzer was taken into custody by United States Marshals following the pronouncement of the verdict on Friday, January 25, 2007.

This federal prosecution was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.

The online enticement charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison. In July of 2006 the mandatory minimum penalty for this crime was increased from five to ten years via The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. There is no possibility of parole in the federal system.

There are many concerns in our environment today about social networking – something that adults don’t feel comfortable with in general. Sites such as MySpace and Facebook make it easy for teens to post and share personal information, pictures, and video, which change the environment for the predators to function.

Years back, for most adults with teenage children, we advised our kids to avoid talking to strangers. Frankly, the place(s) where predators sought their prey was limited to physical gathering spots for children and teens. Today, however, the pond is much different. Today, the predator is not limited to the physical location of the kids, they, instead, prey in the much larger pond of the internet. Unfortunately, adults don’t know how to monitor that environment and the kids feel safe at home with their social networking sites – assuming that most people are honest. Reality is that most kids are unsuspecting and vulnerable. Teenage girls are particularly at risk of online sexual exploitation. A recent study by University of New Hampshire researchers for National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found that of the approximately one in seven youth who received a sexual solicitation or approach over the Internet, 70 percent were girls.

Chuck Gallagher, Ethics Speaker

As a teen ethics speaker (www.chuckgallagher.com) I address teens and young adults about the effects of the choices that they make. Every choice has a consequence. More importantly, however, I have recently begun a series of programs aimed at educating parents about social networking, the internet and how to help keep kids safe. For information contact me at www.chuckgallagher.com.

Project Safe Childhood Press Releases for January 2008:

Comments or questions are welcome!


Teens and Sexual Predators – MySpace Social Networking – How Can Parents Protect Kids From Harm? (Post Two of Three) Comments by Teen Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher

January 19, 2008

Post one – You can’t teach what you don’t know! As soon as I finished my post, it hit me – dummy, take your own advice. So (at the time early Saturday a.m.) I set up a MySpace account. Here’s the link – although there’s more information on my web site. MySpace

Parents: What do you need to know?

Years ago, if a child was going to be the target of sexual predators, it would be in some face to face way. The predator would hang out at the school yard or play ground. Or, perhaps, the predator could be a trusted friend or adviser – such as the highly publicized incidents with priests, etc. Whoever the predator – the reality was they “fished” from small local ponds – our children were the “fish” and they had to come face to face with them in order to “bait” them into the trap.

Social networking has changed the landscape for predator fishing forever. That’s what you need to know. The pond has changed, the method has changed, the bait has changed – it’s now easier to fish and since the environment is bigger and the lures are better – it’s easier for the unsuspecting to get caught.

Consider this: With computer access, I could have set up a free e-mail account with yahoo, hotmail, etc. and been anyone I wanted. (I could have hidden my true identity). Then with that e-mail account I could go to MySpace and set up my account there providing information that was untrue. In order to have my MySpace account in working order all I would have to do is confirm my e-mail from my new e-mail account.

I refer to my earlier comment. Now, in order to catch the prey (that’s our children – don’t forget) I can be anonymous, charming, attractive, and totally unreal. Not to be too funny with this fish stuff…but in the old days you fished with live bait. Now, go to the Bass Pro stores and look at all the great (fake) bait they have to make fishing easier. Makes you wonder if the fish have a fighting chance.

The same is true with unsuspecting children. The changing environment of social networking has caught society off guard, making it easier to lure the prey to the trap and all that done under the nose of the naive parent.

Rule Two: Understand the territory, the lay of the land, if you will, so that you can be aware of what is taking place and how to train your children to be careful when using social networking.

Let me be clear…we all use social networking every day – it’s called e-mail. We surf the net (wonder if you mentioned that to your grandparents if they would know what that means), have anti-virus software and remain vigilant for identity theft predators. And yet, identities are stolen daily. We, as adults, have to be aware that there are predators out there, so why should we not education our children to that fact. The fact is, we can more easily identify with identity theft, cause it’s something we know. We are not nearly as adept at social networking as our kids are – hence teaching safety is more difficult.

Suggestion: Set up your own MySpace account.

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Trust me, it will be an educational opportunity. Just click on the buttons, follow the directions and see where it takes you. You’ll be surprised all that our children are exposed to (not all bad mind you) and easy it would be to ensnare someone who is unsuspecting. Once you’ve set up your account…you can delete it – should you desire. My suggestion – keep it up a while and see what happens. If nothing else, you’ll learn what you need to know to teach your children better.

Chuck Gallagher, Teen Ethics Speaker signing off…


Teens and Sexual Predators – MySpace Social Networking – How Can Parents Protect Kids From Harm? (Post One of Three) Comments by Teen Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher

January 19, 2008

“What is a parents’ roll in protecting their children from harm when they are using MySpace, Facebook or other social networking media,” asked a reporter of me yesterday. As I listened to the message on my cell phone and prepared to call him back, it caused me to think about the content of my response – after all when being interviewed one wants to sound clear and concise in response and thought.

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Reality was, as I was driving, I was flooded with seemingly simple ideas about what we can parents can do to help our children – many of which were so simple that perhaps they would go unnoticed. So, while the writer of the article will likely be more articulate than I – I woke this morning with the strong feeling that I should take some time in this blog to share some ideas that perhaps – just perhaps – might help those of us who are parents with the question of how we protect our children in a social networking world that is unfamiliar territory to most of us. So here are some specific thoughts which might help:

Parents: How Do You Teach?

As a parent, it occurred to me that when I taught my children (consciously) I was teaching from a framework of what I had been taught or what I had experienced. For example, my mother taught me to be careful when talking to “strangers” – in fact, she said, “Never talk to strangers.” Her words were clear although our actions were different as she and I would talk to people we didn’t know – most of the time – as long as the person and location felt safe.

Explore that with me a second…feeling was the key word in the above sentence. We as parents and our parents had a significant benefit that our children don’t have with MySpace – Facebook, etc. — we had the benefit of face to face interaction. One of the God given gifts we have as humans is the intuitiveness to sense danger and flee. Have you ever been in someone’s presence that felt wrong? Most of us have and we left – we escaped to danger we felt.

So what do we teach? We teach our children to be cautious of strangers, etc. because that is our paradigm. Tough question for parents! So how many of you are comfortable with social networking when you are not face to face with the other person? How many of you could set up a MySpace account immediately after reading this? And, if you set it up, what would you do with it then? If you honestly answer – I wouldn’t really know what to do – then you’re teaching from your paradigm (face to face interaction) but they (our children) are working in a virtual world where there is no face to face – at least not at the outset.

Rule One: If you want to be an effective parent, you must recognize that the world your children live is is not the world you come from.

The rules that we all learned by (and I am speaking to parents here) still work – they just need to be modified for the environment. I think I am somewhat computer savvy. (Really I’m not, but I still like to think so) I am connected to LinkedIn, a business social network. Now, I have to be honest, I’m still trying to figure out how to make that work for me. On the other hand, kids get the concept and through MySpace – Facebook, etc. can live in environments that we don’t imagine. Hint: You don’t have to become an expert in social networking to understand how it works and therefore the correct advice to give your children.

Advice: Tell your children as it relates to social networking with MySpace, etc. – if they don’t physically know the person they are talking to – if they can’t identify the person (either because they have seen or know them or someone they trust has seen or knows them) then be cautious – extremely cautious.

I won’t go so far as to say, don’t talk to strangers (some would – I Know), but talking to strangers in a safe environment is, to me, acceptable. Shucks…if you didn’t talk to strangers we’d never meet anyone new. Reality is – talking to strangers is O.K. as long as the environment is safe. Our challenge as parents is, we don’t know or understand the environment.

As a teen ethics speaker, (www.chuckgallagher.com) I have the opportunity to speak to parental groups, teens and young adults about choices and consequences. I am the father of two wonderful boys. Through my love for them, I accept my duty to help them grow and mature. With that comes the opportunity to learn to expand beyond where they are now to become what they can be – and becoming ones best generally requires leaps of faith and risk. While I encourage the risks for growth, I also help them understand the potential pitfalls so they can be protected in their journey. Perhaps as parents we can grow so we can be effecting in helping our children do the same.

Motivational speaker, Chuck Gallagher signing off…

OH…see recent blog on MySpace’s “Safer Measures