) -- thus allowing children to verify that screen name Britney Rulez333 does not actually belong to a 45-year-old man. Just as they learn to cross the street without holding an adult's hand, so they need to learn how to wander the internet safely.

"The value of empowering our children, through education," she concluded, "with the knowledge and critical-thinking skills that they need to be able to assess the every-day situations they will encounter while online cannot be overstressed...

It goes without saying that this is a desirable goal, as long as it's done in accordance with the Constitution and doesn't interfere with everyone else's legal use of the internet. Real kids are being lured into dangerous relationships over the internet; charges were filed in one more case here in Kalamazoo County just last week.

Horny chat room no payment-67

The witnesses were Katie Tarbox, who in 1995, at age 13, had been inadequately briefed on the "rules of the net" and disasterously agreed to meet a child predator she'd chatted with online; two local law enforcement personnel, John Karraker and Jim Gregart; Ruben Rodriguez, the Director of the Exploited Child Unit for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; Caroline Curtin, the Director of Children's Policy for AOL; and Kathleen Tucker, the Director of Curriculum Development for I-Safe America.

Everyone was concerned about keeping children safe online.

Knowledge is key, but kids are, as usual, embracing and understanding change, while bored Congressmen sit behind tables and listen to prepared speeches.

Last week, I contacted three students, ages 14 to 17, and asked them about their experiences chatting online.

All six witnesses said, using almost the same words, that there is no substitute for parental involvement.

Three called for more money and training for law enforcement, to give existing laws teeth. Our local prosecutor suggested mandated inclusion of a CD with every new computer sale, which would explain how to keep children safe online.

Unfortunately, 0 is not a number that extrapolates well to estimate how many of the United States's 70 million children will be physically victimized with help from the internet.

But if I understand the numbers, it seems the internet is not the most likely source of danger.

Finally, I traded several emails with one girl who had chatted online extensively for years, and has met in person "at least 10 or so" other kids whom she first found on AOL -- including a meeting with some boys from another state. But, not only was her protocol for establishing trust detailed and thorough -- paranoid even -- but she readily explained to me her reasoning for each step along the way.