Police urge teens to remove profile pictures from Facebook

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Melbourne, May 17 (ANI): Police have come forward to urge all teenagers to remove their profile pictures from Facebook and the names of the schools they attend.

Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec urged drastic action to protect children and teenagers against potential Internet predators.

"Don't have a photo of yourself on Facebook. Have photos only open to friends. Treat each person you talk to as a complete stranger," News.com.au quoted him as saying.

"For parents, you wouldn't invite a complete stranger into your homes and have them sit down with your child for hours on end, so don't let them sit on the internet talking to strangers for hours on end," he stated.

Supt Kerlatec said that Internet predators searched social networking site profiles for children's interests then, pretending to share them, struck up a conversation.

He warned teens should never agree to meet a stranger they met online unless they were with friends and had also alerted their parents to their plans.

If children listed their school or their interests, Supt Kerlatec said it gave predators vital information to exploit.

The heartbroken family of slain teenager Nona Belomesoff, 18, who was allegedly murdered by a stranger she met on Facebook, joined the plea.

"You just never know who is on the other side of the Internet, you could be talking to anyone," Nona's brother Gary Belomesoff, 20, said.

He said the family was "severely traumatised" by the loss of his animal-loving sister, who agreed to meet her alleged killer, who had offered to help her into a career for rescuing animals, at Leumeah railway station.

Belomesoff's is the second alleged murder of a young Australian woman linked to social networking.

Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg raised warnings about online predators in his book Real Wired Child in 2007.

"Sadly, it's an incredibly steep learning curve we're all on. The fact is, it's dangerous online. Young people can get into horrendous trouble," he said.

"They are trusting, and they are being exposed to people who mean to do them harm," he added.

Premier Kristina Keneally joined the calls for caution and offered her condolences to Nona's family on May 16.

"No matter what our age . . . we should be careful of the people who we meet online and not assume that they are who they represent themselves to be," she said.

"Certainly for parents, it is a tragic yet timely reminder to be aware of what your children are doing online and who they are talking to," she stated.

Christopher James Dannevig, 20, from Leumeah, has been charged with Nona's murder and is due to appear in Campbelltown Local Court on May 20. (ANI)

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