SOURCE: i-SAFE America

May 17, 2005 09:00 ET

Experts Say New Hampshire Must Get Serious About Internet Safety Education

Rochester Man Trolling for Underage Sex Caught Red-Handed

CARLSBAD, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 17, 2005 -- i-SAFE America, a leading non-profit Internet safety foundation, warns schools and parents that the level of Internet safety education they offer students may not be sufficient. This year, students from New Hampshire represent only .003% of the over 550,000 students immersed in i-SAFE's innovative curriculum nationwide.

"This is sobering because the resources are absolutely available," said Teri Schroeder, Chief Executive Officer of i-SAFE America. "We travel across the country to insure every student in the U.S. receives vital Internet safety training. Our program should be a priority for New Hampshire schools."

Earlier this month, citizens of New Hampshire were faced with the reality of online offenses when a Rochester man was charged with attempted sexual assault and illegal computer acts. Keene and Rochester police officers arrested him in his parked vehicle as he surveyed the meeting location for his intended child victim.

"To date we have coordinated the arrest of 480 sexual exploiters who used the Internet to posses child pornography and/or have targeted vulnerable victims," said Detective Jim McLaughlin, head of Keene's Task Force on Internet Crimes Against Children.

The perpetrators? Teachers, clergy, police officers, Boy Scout leaders and businessmen, among others. The problem? Children tend to have a sort of social naïveté while adults tend to possess a technological naïveté, a recipe that may not equip children with good cyber sense. This makes Internet safety education imperative and open dialogue between children and their parents essential. But, while Internet usage among students climbs rapidly, Internet safety education remains fairly stagnant; this despite the fact that 73% of students tell i-SAFE they need Internet safety education.*

"The reality is not enough schools are taking advantage of programs like ours," said Teri Schroeder, president of i-SAFE. "We are offering a unique resource, free of charge. How many tragedies will have to occur before schools make this a priority?"

Less than 1% of those engaged in illegal online activities are caught, McLaughlin said.

"All schools must constantly remind children about their vulnerability while online, especially when using real-time chat programs," he added. "Prevention information, just like math and other school subjects, needs to be repeated so children are constantly educated, age appropriately, as they continue through school."

While children and teens are bright, they can still be lured by a friendly message or flattering compliment. Many students say they have lied about their age online. Can they really be sure the person with whom they're chatting is not doing the same?

According to McLaughlin, many sexual predators despise the fact that children sexually arouse them and are relieved when they are caught. Unfortunately, however, they are all too often seized too late and another child has had the misfortune of being the latest prey.

"Even after the offender is locked up and the child identified and services directed, those photographs will always be on the Internet and cannot be retrieved," Mc Laughlin said. "I have met children who have been photographed and their knowing these photographs exist is a constant shame they have to deal with."

About i-SAFE America

Founded in 1998 and active in all 50 states, i-SAFE America Inc. is the leader in Internet safety education. i-SAFE is a non-profit foundation whose mission is to educate and empower youth to make their Internet experiences safe and responsible. The goal is to educate students on how to avoid dangerous, inappropriate, or unlawful online behavior. i-SAFE accomplishes this through dynamic K-12 curriculum and community outreach programs to parents, law enforcement, and community leaders. It is the only Internet safety foundation to combine these elements. www.isafe.org

i-SAFE America Inc. is designated a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organization by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. i-SAFE America Inc. is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, Department of Justice.

* Based on 2003/2004 i-SAFE data

Contact Information

  • i-SAFE Media Contact:
    Brook Larios
    Public Relations Manager
    Phone: (760) 603-7911, ext. 31
    Email: blarios@isafe.org