City News

Charlotte FBI agent to discuss kids’ online safety

The Levine Jewish Community Center will offer a free program about “Online Safety and Cyber Bullying,” 7-9 p.m. April 29.

The program, called Tech Talk, is for parents of teens and will include a presentation by FBI Special Agent John Letterhos, a member of the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force in Charlotte.

Levine Center board member and concerned parent Staci Mond suggested the program to Jessica Cohen, the center’s teen and group services coordinator.

Mond, mother of a pre-teen and a teen, had heard Letterhos speak in December at Providence Spring Elementary School.

“The information he shared was powerful, as well as frightening and enlightening,” said Mond.

Aware of online bullying, threats at local schools and recent accounts of child predators on social media, Cohen said she thought it was a great idea and contacted the FBI to set up the presentation.

Through his community talks, Letterhos supports the mission of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children program: www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/vc_majorthefts/cac.

The link provides a wealth of knowledge in the fight against online predators and child pornographers, Letterhos said via email.

“We recommend that schools, churches, parents, community leaders encourage children to take part in our Safe Online Surfing website (https://sos.fbi.gov),” he wrote. “It is a free web-based initiative designed to help educate students about cyber safety. It was developed with the assistance of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and with the input of teachers and schools.”

Letterhos recommends parents check their children’s social media outlets and conduct surprise inspections of phones and computers. He also emphatically recommends that no computers, cellphones or tablets should be allowed in their bedrooms.

As for social media “friends” and “followers,” Letterhos said, “If your child cannot tell you where and when they met one of their friends or followers, that person is a stranger and should be deleted.”

Another website Letterhos said he finds useful is www.commonsensemedia.org. The website rates games and apps and can help parents and educators guide children in using media and technology wisely.

“My hope is that by offering these presentations and arming parents and children with knowledge, it will significantly reduce the number of child victims that fall prey to online predators,” wrote Letterhos.

Marissa Brooks is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marissa? Email her at mbrookspt@earthlink.net

Want to go?

The free Tech Talk for parents of teens will be 7-9 p.m. April 29 in the Sam Lerner Center at Shalom Park, 5007 Providence Road in Charlotte. Register at 704-366-5007.

Speakers bureau

The Charlotte FBI Division offers public speakers on a limited basis on a variety of topics. Requests for speakers must be submitted in writing on company letterhead and contain the following information:

▪ Date, time, location of the presentation and alternate date (if possible);

▪ Type of audience (general public, professionals, students, etc.);

▪ Specific topic(s) desired;

▪ Approximate duration of the presentation;

▪ Deadline for response; and

▪ Point of contact information (name and telephone number).

Requests can be sent to Community Outreach Specialist Stacie K. Ward at stacie.ward@ic.fbi.gov, or FBI Charlotte, COS Ward, 7915 Microsoft Way, Charlotte, NC 28273.

All requests must be received by the Charlotte FBI office at least six weeks prior to the presentation date.

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