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Protecting children from cyberbullies, sexual predators - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Protecting children from cyberbullies, sexual predators

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Benton, La. -

Captain Shelley Anderson with Bossier City Marshal's Office says she has about 15 new cases this week. It's not an especially high number, but it's still 15 too many.

"We get stuff on a daily basis sometimes," Anderson says. "[We're busy] just filtering out phone calls of concerned parents, or people wanting to report a crime that's happened against a juvenile. Most of them are through the Internet."

Andersen says- on average- 75% of people live within a mile of a registered sex offender. Many of the Benton Middle School parents who attended the Tuesday evening seminar said they've checked their neighborhoods online, but fewer had looked before sending their child to a sleep over or to the mall.

While the Internet is an effective tool for locating registered sex offenders, there are many more aspects that prove dangerous for kids and surprising for parents.

"There are a lot of things, a lot of dangers out there that they can get into that just themselves they don't know about so I know their parents don't," says Capt. Jim Whitman.

For educators- like Benton Middle Principal Kyle Machen- it's unlikely a sexual predator will talk through the schoolyard. Instead, they're on the look-out for bullying and the signs of cyber bullying.

"As far as we're concerned, one bullying incident is one too many," Machen says. "We feel like it's important to us as educators and parents alike to remain vigilant, proactive and how we protect the welfare of our children."

Cell phones are banned from BMS campus unless a teacher allows them for a specific lesson. If a student is caught with one, it's confiscated until a parent picks it up.

The middle school has four computer labs. The computers- like all in the Bossier Parish School District- have security software to block certain websites, images and videos. Machen admits, however, sometimes the students are one step ahead of their adult teachers and can work around the software.

If a parents suspects a child is the victim of a cyberbully or sexual predator, Anderson says to report the behavior to a local police department.

Related Links:

Bossier Sheriff Sex Offender Locator

Caddo Sheriff Sex Offender Locator

Louisiana State Police Sex Offender Locator

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

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