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Miss America calls for mandatory internet safety classes

Tells Congress she looked at dirty photos

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The current Miss America has asked Congress to take further steps in protecting children from internet predators.

Lauren Nelson, who received her country's highest honor for looking classy in a swimsuit, told the Senate Commerce Committee that internet safety classes should be mandatory for school children.

"We don't allow our children to ride their bikes without first teaching them about proper safety, and we shouldn't let them use the computer and access the internet without taking the same precautions," Nelson said.

Since winning the Miss America beauty pageant, Nelson, age 20, has used the platform to discourage those wishing to objectify youngsters in a sexual fashion. She told Congress the subject personally touched her life seven years ago when somebody sent her dirty pictures over the internet.

When she was 13 years old, she and a friend were approached by a stranger on an internet chat room. The mystery chatter somehow compelled Nelson — who would go on to get a master's degree in musical theater — to divulge her name, age, gender and home address, as well as that of her friend's.

A few days later, the stranger sent her dirty photos.

"We were shocked and disgusted. We then told our parents, who immediately addressed this incident and reported it to the proper authorities, and luckily we were able to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Not all children are as lucky as my friends and I were."

After winning the prestigious pageant crown, Nelson joined a sting operation conducted by America's Most Wanted. She posed as a 14-year-old girl inside internet chat rooms and waited to be propositioned. Nelson managed to lure eleven alleged would-be pedophiles to show up in person. They were all arrested.

Nelson told congress that new classes need to be established to teach the dos and don'ts of social networking sites and chat rooms. She also said children need to take additional lessons on how to be "responsible cyber citizens" - and not cyber-bullies.

No word yet on whether parents can simply teach their kids some common safety sense without the United States Congress getting involved. More as this develops. ®

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