“Channel One” Schools Urged To Warn Parents About Internet Chat Rooms

October 9, 1997

Press Release October 9, 1997 Contact: Jim Metrock 205-822-0080

“Channel One” Schools Urged To Warn Parents About Internet Chat Rooms

“>(Birmingham, AL) Channel One, a controversial in-school TV show, is urging children to visit its Internet web site and its chat room and parents should be warned, says a local child advocacy group.

Jim Metrock, president of Obligation, Inc., said, “Many parents are unaware of the mandatory viewing of Channel One in their child’s school. I believe most parents would be outraged to know that this web site and its chat room are being advertised to their children on this daily TV show.” Obligation has been trying to raise awareness of the problems with Channel One since last year.

A “chat room” is an area on the Internet where individuals can send anonymous messages to other users. FBI Director Louis Freeh told a U.S. Senate hearing earlier this year that “Pedophiles often seek out young children by either participating in or monitoring activities in chat rooms…”

Channel One’s web site also has other ways for children to possibly have exposure to child predators. There is a Message Board area that has a “Personal Ads” section for children. Channel One is also encouraging children to become a ‘Fresh Face’. This is a new feature where they publish a child’s picture on the Internet. Other age-inappropriate sections include reviews of R-rated movie and explicit content CDs for kids.

“Because the children hear and see the ads for the web site in school, it has the implied endorsement of the school,” Metrock said.

Recent incidents are drawing increased attention to chat room dangers. A 15-year-old California child last week was returned home after disappearing for a month. A man who befriended him in a chat room sent the child, who was upset with his parents, a bus ticket to North Carolina.

Last week in New Jersey a 15-year-old boy allegedly raped and killed an 11-year-old child who was doing door-to-door selling. The 15-year-old was himself an alleged victim of a man who befriended him in a chat room and who repeatedly raped him. Metrock said, “This chat room encounter may well have destroyed two families.”

Locally, a former vice principal at Mt. Brook High School was indicted in July on charges of using a chat room to entice boys to have sex. He has since been charged with other child sex crimes.

There are seven area school districts that require the playing of Channel One during school. Obligation urges the Bessemer, Fairfield, Jefferson County, Midfield, Shelby County, Tarrant, and Vestavia Hills school systems to send home warnings to parents about chat rooms in general and, in particular, Channel One’s.

Other Resources for Reporters:Bessemer City Schools, Superintendent Dr. Ernest Nicholson 481-9800; Fairfield City Schools, Superintendent Dr. Simpson Berry 780-6137; Jefferson County Schools, Superintendent Dr. Bruce Wright 930-3800; Midfield City Schools, Superintendent Dr. Andy Rowell 923-2262; Shelby County Schools, Superintendent Bill Sparks 669-5600; Tarrant City Schools, 849-3700; and Vestavia Hills City Schools, Superintendent Dr. Carlton Smith 823-0295.Channel One Network: David Tanzer, President 212-508-6800 www.channelone.com

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 800-843-5678 www.ncmec.org

Donna Parker, Parents’ Information Network 836-2031 Mrs. Parker has been on the Maury Povich show and CNBC talking about child predator’s on the Internet. She has helped law enforcement catch pedophiles in chat rooms. 







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