Our Kids are in Danger!

by kriggins on December 16, 2008

in Awareness

According to a survey performed in 2006 by Cox Communications and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), 61% of children between the age of 13 and 17 have a personal profile on sites such as MySpace, Friendster, or Xanga. Half of them have posted pictures of themselves online.

That was 2006 folks. I’m willing to bet the numbers are even higher. From the same survey, our kids have experienced the following:

  • 71% reported receiving messages online from someone they don’t know.
  • 45% have been asked for personal information by someone they don’t know.
  • 30% have considered meeting someone that they’ve only talked to online
  • 14% have actually met a person face-to-face they they’ve only spoken to over the Internet (9% of 13-15s; 22% of 16-17s).

Not scary enough? How about these statistics from the Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later (2006):

  • More than one-third of youth Internet users (34%) saw sexual material online they did not want to see
  • Online harassment also increased to 9% of youth Internet users
  • Approximately 1 in 7 (13%) received unwanted sexual solicitations

So what can we do about this other than to ban our children from using the internet?  Educate them. Enter the NetSmartz program.

From the website:

The NetSmartz Workshop is an interactive, educational safety resource from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) for children aged 5 to 17, parents, guardians, educators, and law enforcement that uses age-appropriate, 3-D activities to teach children how to stay safer on the Internet.

I learned about this program last week at the Infragard Cyber Sector meeting. It is a really neat program. They have developed several sets of materials that can be downloaded and used free of charge. The download page is here. In addition to the downloadable materials, there are many resources available on their website that provide even more information and tools.

I was not aware of this great resource until last week. Please help spread the word about it. Our children need to know how to protect themselves online and this seems like just about the best way to go about it I have seen yet. There is going to be a train-the-trainer type session at next month’s Cyber Sector meeting. I will bring this up again after I have attended that meeting.


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