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Seminar focuses on cyber safety

Seminar speakers: Guest speakers Chris Speaks (left), an attorney, and David Clackley with Clanton Police Department talked about cyber safety at a seminar Monday at Victory Baptist Church/Chilton Christian Academy. (Photos by Stephen Dawkins)

Seminar speakers: Guest speakers Chris Speaks (left), an attorney, and David Clackley with Clanton Police Department talked about cyber safety at a seminar Monday at Victory Baptist Church/Chilton Christian Academy. (Photos by Stephen Dawkins)

Many parents find it difficult to keep their children safe in the digital age.

“Cyber safety” was the topic of a seminar Monday at Victory Baptist Church in Jemison.

Donald Jones, pastor of the church that also houses Chilton Christian Academy, welcomed those in attendance and introduced the evening’s first speaker, Chris Speaks, who has practiced law for about 25 years.

Speaks said he has seen the problems social media can cause—even to the point of breaking up families.

“I don’t like social media,” Speaks said. “I see on a daily basis the problems it causes. This is something that has been very concerning to me for a long time.”

Speaks pointed to the anonymity offered by the internet, and said potential predators can take on any identity, especially one that is appealing to potential victims.

Speaks stressed that inflammatory posts or inappropriate photos shared on the internet can remain there forever and have consequences into adulthood, such as difficulty obtaining jobs.

“It affects your reputation for the rest of your life,” he said.

Speaks was followed by Capt. David Clackley with the Clanton Police Department, who began his presentation by showing a video of a man demonstrating how easy it would be for a pedophile to prey on young girls by posing as a teenage boy on social media, starting conversations with three girls and then arranging to meet them.

Clackley, who said he has received SWAT and sniper training, began to focus on crimes against children when he had two girls of his own.

“As I sat and watched my kids grow up, I realized that’s the most important thing,” he said. “This is something I’m passionate about.”

Clackley said problems arise because of children’s easy access to the internet, and the fact that most aren’t aware of risks.

Many times, parents aren’t aware, either.

Clackley said he’s worked cases of child pornography and cyber bullying.

“These things should not happen,” he said.

Clackley’s presentation covered internet etiquette, risks, security, sexting, grooming, cyber bullying and more.

He encouraged attendees to visit CyberTipline.org and to support Butterfly Bridge, a local children’s advocacy center that assists law enforcement in cases of child abuse.