Kimberly Pedre, the Howell Township 16-year-old who hadn't been found in New Jersey since leaving home February 5, is back and safe, according to township police.

Kimberly Pedre 16-year-old Missing Howell Teen, Phote Credit :Our Howell Facebook page
Kimberly Pedre 16-year-old Missing Howell Teen, Phote Credit :Our Howell Facebook page

Kimberly was found in Willits, California, where she had gone to meet someone she encountered through the Internet, police said. Mendocino County Sheriff's officers located Kimberly to California Child Protective Services, which paid her airfare home. She landed Saturday, greeted by family and friends, authorities said.

The happy ending stands as more of an exception than the rule, experts warn. Howell police offer reminders about Internet safety, gleaned from the New York Public Library website:

  • Personal Information. Don't give out personal information without your parents' permission. This means you should not share your last name, home address, school name, or telephone number. Remember, just because someone asks for information about you does not mean you have to tell them anything about yourself.
  • Screen Name. When creating your screen name, do not include personal information like your last name or date of birth.
  • Passwords. Don't share your password with anyone but your parents. When you use a public computer make sure you logout of the accounts you've accessed before leaving the terminal.
  • Photos. Don't post photos or videos online without getting your parents' permission.
  • Online Friends. Don't agree to meet an online friend unless you have your parents' permission. Unfortunately, sometimes people pretend to be people they aren't. Remember that not everything you read online is true.
  • Online Ads. Don't buy anything online without talking to your parents first. Some ads may try to trick you by offering free things or telling you that you have won something as a way of collecting your personal information.
  • Bullying. Don't send or respond to mean or insulting messages. Tell your parents if you receive one. If something happens online that makes you feel uncomfortable, talk to your parents or to a teacher at school.

Finally, recognizing the fear that some parents hold about violating their children's privacy, Howell police and other law enforcement professionals recognize that Internet monitoring decisions are unique to each family. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy. But police emphasize that nothing is more important than your children's safety.

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