Monday, June 21, 2010

1 in 7 Kids Is Solicited for Sex Online

USNewswire -- Two new items are now available for kids between the ages of 8 and 12 that are not only fun but also teach them how to stay safe while on the Internet. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) and Sprint (NYSE:S) announced today that in honor of Internet Safety Month the popular child-focused Internet safety website www.NSTeens.org has been expanded to include a new animated video and educational game created for the "in-between" tween audience of 8 to 12 year olds. The new video "Mike-tosis," is already on the site and demonstrates how quickly information spreads through the Internet, on mobile phones, and other technology that is widely used today. In addition, a new online game "Cyberbully Zombies Attack," will be released June 30 and allows players to use Internet safety tips, trusted adults, and technology as tools to stop cyberbullying zombies from reaching their school.

The statistics are alarming: 1 in 7 kids is solicited for sex online; 1 in 33 kids receives aggressive online solicitations to meet in person; 1 in 3 kids receives unsolicited sexual content online; and 34% of kids online indicate they communicate with people they don't know.

"Today children have more access to the Internet that ever before in history. The majority of all households today have at least one computer and we know that most teens access the Internet from multiple locations," said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC. "Kids already know that the Internet is a wonderful resource. They also need to understand the potential risks and the simple things that they can do that will help them stay safe. That is why NSTeens was created. It is designed for tweens but also can serve as an educational resource for parents and teachers. We are grateful to Sprint for their continuing commitment to help keep children safe while online."

As a part of Internet Safety Month, Sprint and NCMEC have also partnered again and have scheduled an online chat about Internet safety at 1:00 PM EDT on Tuesday, June 29. Nancy McBride, National Safety Director for NCMEC will be available to answer questions about online safety. The live chat can be accessed at http://community.sprint.com/. Questions can be submitted during the hour-long chat or can be submitted beforehand at http://community.sprint.com/. No advance registration is required for this event.

"There is perhaps nothing more important than protecting our nation's children," said Debby Ballard, Director of Community Affairs for Sprint. "The Internet provides many opportunities for fun and learning, but can also be the source of many potential dangers. As such, it's crucial for businesses, non-profit organizations, communities and schools to partner together to make sure our young people are safe online. We are pleased to work with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to expand the online-safety tools available for children, parents and educators in the effort to keep children safe."

NSTeens.org's animated videos feature a multi-ethnic cast of comic-book-style characters and are accompanied by real teens talking about their online experiences. "Mike-tosis" and all other NSTeens videos include activity cards to help teachers build the videos into their lesson plans and open a dialogue with their students. The new video and game, as well as all of the content on www.NSTeens.org, is available in English and Spanish.

NCMEC created the popular website www.NSTeens.org in 2007 in partnership with Sprint with the objective of providing a resource for the often overlooked "tweens" who are ages 8 to 12. NSTeens is an expansion of NCMEC's successful NetSmartz Workshop which is a web-based safety program designed specifically for children. Sprint provides funding for NSTeens through its Internet safety initiative, 4NetSafety(SM).

Both NetSmartz Workshop and 4NetSafety offer free resources to teens, parents, and teachers. Issues like online gaming, cyberbullying, and social networking are addressed through animated videos, games and other content. Since www.NSTeens.org was launched, the site has grown and expanded with new content added each year. NSTeens.org materials are also used in presentations by NCMEC's NetSmartz Workshop and have now been distributed to more than 550 schools and more than 250,000 students in grades 6-8.

Sprint's 4NetSafety Internet safety program is conducted in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the National Education Association Health information Network and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The program is funded through Sprint Project Connect(SM), Sprint's charitable wireless recycling program. For more Internet safety tips or information about how to recycle a wireless phone and/or accessories, visit www.4netsafety.com.

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