Miss America back home

Lauren Nelson, the reigning Miss America is back home in Lawton.  She's spending a few days here before heading back on the road and stopped by Central Middle School, Monday, to talk to local students about reaching goals and making good choices.  The audience was made up of about 700 kids from all three high schools and four middle schools.  They heard from Miss America how it's possible to beat the odds.

"Look at those odds and keep trying even harder," she said.  "Being determined to make that happen... looking at those odds and saying, who cares? I'm going to make it happen for me.  That's exactly what you have to do."

Lauren won't be in town for long as she continues her year as Miss America, traveling 20,000 miles per month talking to kids about reaching their dreams.  And, she's also promoting her platform of internet safety.  Lauren says there's still a lot of work to do.

Whether you're a parent or a kid, you've heard the warnings about being safe online.  Lauren is getting the message out that online safety is important for everyone, but it's something she already knew.  She saw it first hand when she participated in a sting operation with America's Most Wanted.  There, she saw how predators actually operate.

She participated in all aspects.  "I got to do it on all three sides," Lauren said.  "I talked to them on-line.  I talked to them on the phone.  I met some of them in person. So, it made it more real to me.  It kind of re-lit my fire to go out and talk more about it and do more about it."  And that's exactly what she's doing.

Lauren spoke before the Senate Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill urging them to make internet safety a part of everyday education.  "There are computer classes in all high schools and most middle schools now," she said.  "Why not teach -- why not make Internet Safety a part of that computer class?"

As she travels across the country, Lauren says she hears positive things from young people about the changes they're making to their daily internet habits.  "It's really encouraging to know that they want their parents to be involved.  They want their parents to ask questions.  And they do realize that some of the habits that aren't safe, they realize that they're not safe and they're not doing them as much," she said.

She says that's why it's so important for parents to talk with their kids and caution them about the dangers of internet predators - no matter how old they are.  "Talk about it.  That's all it takes.  Talking about it... and continuously.  It needs to start when they're young because they're on-line then.  But it needs to continue through high school," she said.