Getting Real With Amy Kelly was kind enough to share this two-part series on Internet Predators with us from Ken Shallcross of PC Pandora.

This is part one in a two part series, provided courtesy of Ken Shallcross from PC Pandora. Ken Shallcross is the director of public outreach and marketing for Pandora Corp. He has been with the company since 2007, and has a background in broadcast PR. He has a BA in journalism from University of RI, and is based in New York City.

As we make way into this second decade of the 21st century, parents need to wake up to the realization that the Internet is a main component of everyday life, especially for our kids. But just because everyone – and I mean literally just about everyone – is using it, does not mean it’s completely safe. In fact, it is just the opposite. Just as in the real world, there are people that use the Internet to harm others. One of the two high profile dangers lurking online is Internet predators, and I have news for you – they are real!

A lot of experts in recent years have asserted that Internet predators, and the fear that is incited by the very mention of them, is blown out of proportion. Maybe it’s a reaction to the infamous Chris Hansen/Dateline NBC series “To Catch a Predator,” but many experts are trying to tell parents that our fear of Internet predators is “overblown,” and that we should really be more concerned with at-risk youth.

I have a serious issue with this notion.

I read multiple stories every week about Internet predators being busted in sting operations. I believe the news reports I see and read are true, more specifically the law enforcement officers quoted in these stories giving their take on Internet safety. Whether it’s another predator bust or an article about a local internet safety seminars, hosted by local law enforcement and FBI agents, or just simple tips and advice from the agents and officers on the front lines of the predator war, one statement always comes out in every piece: ‘you must protect your children from online predators. These guys do exist!’

Why would law enforcement (aka those we charge with keeping us safe) lie about this? Why would local cops and sheriffs want to incite an unnecessary panic? They aren’t trying to sell software or create a fear of smoke. They are simply stating their opinions and beliefs based on what they see every day at their job: an endless parade of disgusting individuals who use the Internet to solicit sex from underage children, both boys and girls alike.

I believe they are not lying. They are speaking the truth. Make no mistake, Internet predators are real – and in tomorrow’s post we will discuss recent real world situations, and what you can do to protect your child.