By Melanie Patterson

The North Jefferson News

North Jefferson Middle School is joining the fight against Internet predators.

The school will host a meeting on Jan. 28, 6 p.m., to teach parents and other adults how to keep children safe online.

Jeff Arney, a U.S. postal inspector, will be speaking at the meeting. Arney helps investigate online predators and has assisted in several arrests.

“He will talk about the exploitation of our children on the Internet and predators on the Internet,” said Donnie Cantrell, North Jefferson Middle School PTA president.

Cantrell, who has two sons at NJMS, has been working since October to organize the session.

“Kids are more educated on the computer in school than I am at home,” said Cantrell. She said that is a fairly common scenario in homes.

“I take for granted that they know what they’re doing. They can get into it more than you think,” she said. “Kids just don’t realize the danger of who they’re talking to, who wants to be their friend.”

Cantrell said that her family recently had a scare regarding the Internet.

“Once I realized there was a problem there, I checked into it,” Cantrell said. “It’s so common. Once I started talking about my problem, I found out that more people had problems too. It was an overwhelming learning experience for me.”

That is why Cantrell is working so hard to educate other parents.

“I’ve had personal experience with it. Together with that and hearing so much about it locally ... I feel like more parents should be aware of the dangers that are there,” she said.

Arney travels and often speaks to groups about keeping children safe on the Internet. He was not available for comment by press time Tuesday, but Cantrell said that he would teach parents to look for signs that their children might be in trouble.

“Our kids have outranked us as far as computer knowledge,” she said.

Cantrell said it is doubly important to educate parents, because the predators themselves are teaching kids how to create secret files and to delete files.

“These guys know a lot. They know how to get the kids involved,” Cantrell said. “You don’t want to be too trusting with your kids. You need to oversee, observe and watch everything your kids do.”

For directions or for more information about the meeting on Jan. 28, scheduled for 6 p.m., call North Jefferson Middle School at 379-4000.

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