Women’s Fund to host forum on internet dangers

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The Women’s Fund of Smith County (Women’s Fund) will shine the light on internet dangers during a community forum titled “Internet of Darkness: How the Web is ensnaring minds and destroying lives in Smith County and what you can do to protect others.”

The event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21, at the ETMC Pavilion conference center, 801 Clinic Drive in Tyler.

“This year we are further expanding community education through an in-depth look at how illicit use of the Internet is breaking hearts and lives, particularly as young people are ensnared in the Web,” said Kristen Seeber, President/CEO of the Women’s Fund of Smith County. “This is a topic of vital interest to Women’s Fund members, parents, agencies and the community-at-large as we work to protect children in Smith County.”

The United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Eastern District of Texas reports that the epidemic of child exploitation is growing; for every new trend in technology, new dangers arise to threaten our children. The statistics from the USAO’s Project Safe Childhood reveal the magnitude of the problem:

• One in five children per year receives an unwanted sexual solicitation online.

• One in thirty-three children per year receives an aggressive sexual solicitation.

• At any given time, 50,000 predators are on the internet actively seeking our children.

The Internet Watch Foundation reports that child pornography is one of the fastest growing businesses online, with content becoming much worse. From child exploitation through pornography and trafficking, to sexual solicitations, to cyber-bullying, children are no longer safe in their own homes, including here in Smith County.

Today a host of local law enforcement, legal and social service organizations are all involved in fighting Internet crime. The work ranges from identifying, investigating and prosecuting individuals who victimize children to educating both adults and kids about Internet dangers.

“Internet of Darkness” is open to Women’s Fund members, guests and the community-at-large, although seating is limited. Reservations are required by Sept. 18 and cost is $10 (cash or check payable to ETMC) per person to cover lunch, payable at the door.

To register, please visit info@womensfundsc.org or call 903-509-1771. Free parking will be available in the ETMC Pavilion parking lot.

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