HAMMOND | An Internet safety expert gave Bishop Noll students, teachers and parents some of the tools they will need to create an environment for Internet safety.
Art Wolinsky, retired teacher and now technology director for the Online Internet Institute and WiredSafety.org, made a morning presentation to students, an afternoon presentation to teachers and an evening presentation to parents Wednesday.
He offered ideas on how to infuse technology into the curriculum while also providing safety for anyone involved with children.
Unlike media reports, Wolinsky said 96 percent of the children who went to meet strangers knew they would be meeting an adult, and 85 percent knew they were going for sex.
"There is no reason for students to put personal information on the Internet about themselves," Wolinsky said, adding that those students who met predators on the Internet are the same young people who would have gotten into trouble meeting face to face.
"Their friends already have their phone numbers and addresses. They don't need to put that kind of information on the Internet," he said.
"Teach kids to understand and evaluate the information they read on the Internet," Wolinsky told teachers as he flipped through the presentation.
"Teach kids not to talk to strangers online and don't go to meet people you don't know," he said.
"The danger is real but it's not as bad as portrayed in the media," Wolinsky said.
He said he will encourage parents to talk to their children and not to threaten to "take the Internet away."
Bishop Noll Technology Director Al Poracky, who sat in on the teachers' session, said the school has software sites such as YouTube, MySpace, gaming sites or adult sites blocked but that doesn't mean that students don't try.
"There are times when I come in and I can see how many times it has been attempted," Poracky said.
There always are new things out there, and we're always "tweaking" the software, Poracky said.
Bishop Noll sophomore Byron Jordan said he has a MySpace page but he doesn't put personal information on it.
"I've got a picture of myself but it's blurry," he said. "I'm aware of the need to be careful on the Internet but he (Wolinsky) really made me take it seriously."