Altamont Police have teamed up with Wal-Mart to distribute software to keep children safe from online predators, and one mother actively using the program said it has provided valuable peace-of-mind.
The software, distributed by ComputerCOP Software Corporation, allows parents to monitor what their children are doing on the Internet, and keep track of with whom they are in contact.
Altamont Police Commissioner Tony Salerno said the software was purchased with a $2,200 public safety initiative grant from Wal-Mart.
Salerno said he is determined to be proactive, especially since there has been public outcry for something to be done about online predators.
We're seeing a lot of incidents pertaining to computer activity with our younger adolescence, Salerno said. "This is one of those issues I want to address, instead of saying, 'I wish we had done this,' or 'I wish we had done that.' These kids are vulnerable to certain elements of society."
Becky Slingerland, a parent who uses the software, said she has three girls: two twins that are 12 and an 8-year-old.
"I trust my kids," she said. "But the Internet, in so many words, is terrible." She said she stresses to her children not to give out information such as their name and address, and will not allow them to have a MySpace account.
She said the program has given her the peace-of-mind to know her kids are visiting only age-appropriate Web sites.
When she ran the program, she said she luckily did not find anything questionable. She plans to run the program again after school starts, because her kids will be dealing with the stresses of peer pressure in middle school.
A key feature, ComputerCOP Sales Representative John Herrmann said, is that parents can use the software quickly and stealthily.
"The child won't know that the computer has been scanned," said Herrmann. "It's designed to keep the children safe."