New Ad Campaign Warns of Online Dangers

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Many popular social networks such as MySpace, Facebook, and other online chatrooms are posing real dangers to unsuspecting users.

"The children will go online to create their profiles and put a lot of personal information," said College Station Police Detective Noe Rincones. "It doesn't take long for a predator or a pedophile to find out who they are or where they're at."

That's why the Ad Council has partnered up with the U.S. Department of Justice and The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to educate young people -- girls in particular -- about some of the dangers of the online world.

"Our goal here is not to frighten kids," said Ernie Allen, president and CEO for The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "It's to make them alert and aware so they'll take positive steps and think before they post."

The new ads remind children that when you post things online, it's similar to being in public. The things many think will only be seen by a select group of friends could be circulating across the Internet.

"When you go online, things you put online -- images, pictures, and what not -- they're going to be there forever," Rincones said. "They're never going to get it back."

Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Cyber Crimes Unit are also taking the issue of online safety very seriously, and are hosting a cyber safety town hall meeting Tuesday evening in Bryan.

With six arrests of alleged online predators already made in the Brazos Valley, officials say that education is key.

"We understand that we're not going to be able to arrest ourselves out of this problem," said David Boatright with the Criminal Investigations Division for the Attorney General of Texas. "That's why education and outreach, partnering with schools and parents, is so important to get the message out."

Officials hope parents and children will come out and get more information about online dangers at the meeting.

"There is a dark side to the Internet," Boatright said, "and I think that's what parents need come and find out directly from the attorney general, the danger faced on the Internet."

The cyber safety meeting with Abbott and his Cyber Crimes Unit will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday evening at Bryan High School.