I'm just back from TechEd 2005 in Orlando FL and I'm still buzzing from the opportunity of mingling and chatting with masses of our customers and partners (about 13,000 attended) as well as drinking from the firehose of technical content from our server and desktop technology teams.   There were so many great sessions but I have to tell you that the one session that impacted me more than any other was a complete surprise - not about technology but focused on the preditors that are attempting to reach our kids online.

I had no idea just how many of these people are out there or how creative and tenacious they are in their persuits, or the tools the web provides them for their black art.  It's staggering to me that a study completed five years ago showed that one in five kids online between  the ages of 11 and 14 will be contacted by a predator online, and that there are networks of these people out there who share ideas, names, and in the worst cases, children they have abducted for their horrible pleasures.

Laura Chappell, an extremely talented network specialist (packet level) and a very committed crusader against these animals, presented an excellent session on the topic of Internet Safety for Kids.   The session provided an insight into the activities that make our kids vulnerable, the profiles of typical online predators, the tools and techniques they use, and tools and information parents can use to detect that bad things may be happening.

Laura has built a kit for parents as well as a presentation kit for folks who have the time and inclination to present her experiences to their local community, and these are available from her site - http://www.packet-level.com/kids.  It's totally free and highly recommended content for anyone who is interested in the topic or who would like to help spread the word.

jd