Saturday, February 16, 2008

Safety Saturdays - Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online and Offline #1

Kacie Woody Kacie Woody is the reason why I am so passionate about internet safety. At 13, Kacie was a 7th grade honor student, who loved to sing and write poetry. She lived in a small rural area in Faulkner County Arkansas with her father, a police officer, and one of her older brothers. (Kacie's mother died in an automobile accident when Kacie was 7.) Because they lived in a rural area, it was long distance for Kacie to call many of her friends, so they communicated through the internet. They also began frequenting chat rooms.

In a Christian chat room, Kacie met an 18-year-old teenage boy, Dave, from California. After talking frequently online and by phone for six months, Kacie considered him her friend. Kacie was trusting and naive - probably more like our children than unlike them.

Kacie's School LockerDave was not Kacie's friend. He was a 47-year-old man from the San Diego area. On December 3, 2002, he abducted Kacie from her home and murdered her. Her death had a tremendous impact not only on her friends, family and community, but also on the investigators who worked on the case. I was one of the investigators in the San Diego area. In December 2002, I taped a printed copy of the picture of Kacie, posted above, on my computer to remind me why I worked to stop internet predators.

Kacie's story* continues to have an impact. Her father, Rick Woody, started the Kacie Woody Foundation to help fight internet predators. On their website, Mr. Woody states, "Kacie truly was an angel. It is my goal to educate as many parents and children as I can about the dangers of internet predators so this does not happen to someone else's little angel." I share Mr. Woody's goal.

I have my own little angel now. I no longer work in law enforcement, but Kacie's picture is taped to my computer. Now, it inspires me to use my knowledge to teach parents and children about safety issues. One of the ways I plan to do this is through a weekly post on my blog "Safety Saturdays" that will contain tips for keeping kids safe online and offline. (The tips will start next Saturday.)

"Regarding angels, he (God) says, the messengers are winds, the servants are tongues of fire." (Hebrews 1:7 - The Message) Kacie is an angel. Her story ignites passion to bring about change. I hope you will share Kacie's story and the "Safety Saturdays" tips with others to make a difference in a child's life, while there is still time.

*On the Kacie Woody Foundation website, you can read "Caught in the Web," a series of articles, written by Cathy Frye of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, detailing Kacie's story.


Liza's Eyeview said...

Thank you for your e-mail about this post. Very informative and helpful. I'll keep watch and follow this series.

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