Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Parents, your kids are online

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In the 1960s, a new public service announcement began to appear on TV stations across North America: Do you know where your children are?

That message needs to be updated for the 21st century following the suspected suicide of a British Columbia girl, Amanda Todd, 15, who was lured by an unknown man to expose her breasts via webcam when she was in Grade 7.

The man later harassed and threatened her on the Internet, causing her to suffer anxiety and depression. She despaired over the fact a nude photo of her was "out there forever" and she could never get it back.

Cyber bullying is not new, but too many people, particularly the very young, remain unaware of the danger of posting inappropriate information online.

Some teenagers may think images of themselves drinking liquor or acting silly are harmless, but once on the Internet, they can become impossible to remove, correct or explain. The same is true of allegations made online, or the dissemination of personal information. The old adage about not talking to strangers should also be revived for the modern era.

Parents and schools need to be more vigilant in educating young people about the perils and minefields in today's cyber world, which can be cruel and unforgiving.

The question today is not do you know where your children are; it's do you know what they are doing and where they are going online?

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 13, 2012 A14

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