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July 25, 2014

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Originally published: 2012-09-20 20:50:25
Last modified: 2012-09-20 20:50:25

SBI agent to give seminar about online dangers for children

SBI Special Agent Alan K. Flora will present to Watauga County parents the online dangers children unknowingly face and strategies for educating, protecting and monitoring their Internet activity on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Blowing Rock School.

Supervision for school-aged children ages 5 and older will be provided starting at 6:30 p.m. and will include pizza, water and fruit drinks.

Flora’s presentation, as well as a question-and-answer session, is scheduled from 6:45 to 8 p.m.  
“We wanted to make this presentation as convenient as possible for Watauga County parents to attend,” said Blowing Rock School Principal Patrick Sukow.

 “The online threats to children are numerous, and our awareness as parents and educators is nothing less than imperative. The stakes are that high,” he said.

Statistics of youth Internet usage and threats paint a clear picture of the potential for harm to children and basis for concern, he said.

• 95 percent of all American children ages 12 to 17 are online (2011 Pew Research via

• 45 percent of online 12-year-olds use social network sites (2011 Pew Research via

• 80 percent of online teens use social network sites (2011 Pew Research via

• 97 percent of children ages 12 to 17 play computer, Web portable or console games; 27 percent of them game with people they met online (2008 Pew Internet and American Life Project)

• 33 percent of children ages 12 to 17 have been cyberbullied (2008 Pew Internet and American Life Project)

• 77 percent of online predator’s targets were age 14 or older (Crimes Against Children Research Center)

• 22 percent of online predator’s targets were age 10 to 13 (Crimes Against Children Research Center)

• 75 percent of children are willing to share personal information about themselves and their family online in exchange for goods and services (eMarketer)

The good news is that “kids who are educated in the importance of online safety are more likely to take steps to keep themselves safe online than kids who aren’t educated,” according to the 2008 article quoted on

Flora has been in law enforcement since 1992 and in 2007 was assigned to the SBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

His presentation chronicles actual cases from northwest North Carolina to demonstrate not only the threats to children, but why they are so vulnerable and the parent’s role in proactive education, monitoring and intervention.

Many who attended Flora’s Internet safety presentation last spring at Watauga High School are anxious for more parents to come this time, according to program organizers.

 Lee Ryan, a Watauga County substitute teacher,  had this to say after seeing  Flora’s last presentation: “We lock our houses, but unwittingly throw the doors wide open, so to speak, when it comes to inviting strangers into our homes via the Internet.”

Blowing Rock teacher Sue Hohbach Walker said, “Technology is here to stay. We can’t protect our kids from it, but we can educate them about it. Every parent should attend this presentation.”

The Internet Safety Seminar is open to all parents in Watauga County, whether their children attend county, private or home-schools.

Since the presentation is for adults only, Blowing Rock School requests families email the number of children attending at ( by the end of day Sept. 24, so that adequate adult supervision and food and drink are on hand for the children.

Established in 1918, Blowing Rock School is a prekindergarten to eighth- grade elementary school located at 165 Morris St. in the heart of Blowing Rock.

For more information about the event, call Stacey Gibson with Blowing Rock PTO at (828) 264-4223 or email at (

For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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