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Parents learn to be Web wary

Mohonasen's Student Resource Officer Tom Culbert said he has begun to notice an increase in cyber-bullying at the high school, but that school officials have been able to curtail any major incidents.

"We'll get wind of some of the things that were said online because it escalates to the point where what was said comes through the front door into the schools," said Culbert, who organized Fuchs' talk. "What we try to do is mediate the situation and sort it out. So far, we've been pretty successful."

While Fuch's acknowledged that social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook can be the breeding ground for cyber-bullying, he also said that today's teens are putting so much personal information on the Web that they could become the victims of identity theft, kidnapping, or sexual crimes.

'There's no reason a 15- or 16-year-old kid has to have a public page that anyone can access," said Fuchs.

Fuchs said that with very basic search tools on Web mainstays like Google and AOL, predators could track down the hometown, age, school district, and online screen names of a potential victim with little more than the click of a mouse.

But, said Fuchs, those predators can only get the information if a child makes it available on sites like Xanga, MySpace or Facebook.

Despite the dangers of these social networking sites and others present, Fuchs said the most important thing for a parent to remember is to keep the avenues of communication open with children.

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