States seek more online safeguards

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann has joined 44 other states in seeking greater controls for online networking sites to prevent sexual predators from using those sites to contact children.

They’ve started by working with the popular Web site MySpace to add extensive measures. An official with the multi-state agreement said MySpace, the huge social networking Web site, agreed to include several online protections and participate in a working group to develop age-verifications and other technologies.

Locally, Ironton High principal Joe Rowe can see advantages to this new agreement.

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“Anything that would possibly protect our children is worth looking into,” Rowe said. “Anyway that we can educate parents to help monitor anything like MySpace. I just think this is the information superhighway. Everything changes each day. The more you could find out. I need to brush up on anything that could hurt my child in any way.”

Paul Vernier from Ironton-Lawrence CAO Family Guidance Center sees daily the impact the Internet has on area youth.

“Kids are getting desensitized. They get on the Internet and talk about sex and they don’t know who they are talking to about sex. Then they find out what sites to get on to find porn, the hard porn,” the clinical management assistant said. “They start thinking that certain sexual acts are normal and they’re not normal. … The predators know exactly what they are doing.”

The agreement is scheduled to be announced Monday in Manhattan by Dann and attorneys general from New Jersey, North Carolina, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New York.

The official said MySpace will also accept independent monitoring and changes to the structure of its site.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement hadn’t yet been announced.

The Associated Press contributed information to this article.