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With school out and many kids spending more time on the Internet during the summer months, Attorney General Jack Conway wants to remind Kentucky families about the importance of staying safe online. In observance of June’s designation as National Internet Safety Month, General Conway asks that parents be engaged in the virtual world, just as they are in the real world.
“Our children are logging on, socializing and spending countless hours in a virtual world unfamiliar to many parents. The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it can also be a tool for crime,” said General Conway, who has conducted cybersafety workshops for more than 14,000 students across the Commonwealth. “One in every seven children between the ages of 10 and 17 reports receiving unwanted sexual advances from someone online. Only 25% of children report these frightening online solicitations to a parent or other trusted adult.”
General Conway’s comprehensive cybercrimes legislation, approved earlier this year by the Kentucky General Assembly, takes effect June 25 and will strengthen Kentucky laws to better protect children from Internet predators. But, General Conway says parents also need to monitor their children’s online activities and take other precautions to ensure their kids stay safe online.
Online Safety Checklist:
•Google your children (and yourself) often for your child’s contact information. It can help you spot ways in which your child’s personal information may be exposed to strangers online or could be an early detection system for cyberbullying posts.
•Keep the computer in a family room, kitchen or open area - NOT in a child’s bedroom.
•Teach your children they should never meet an online friend in person unless you are with them.
•Find out what email and instant-messaging accounts they have and ask them for their passwords.
•Teach your children about the dangers of cell phone cameras and how they may be used against them. Cell phone images can be easily downloaded, altered and exploited on the Internet.
•As a condition of use, make your child list you as a friend on MySpace or Facebook.
•Consider installing monitoring and filtering software.
Investigators in the Office of the Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigations report an increased number of complaints from gamers and others who have sent self-produced, sexually explicit images and have then been threatened or blackmailed by the recipient.
Bullying is also a problem.
•If you encounter bullying, don’t respond. Block them, save any evidence, and report them to authorities.
•Choose gender-neutral, appropriate screen names.
•Use voice-mask so other gamers don’t know your age or gender.
•Don’t share personal information through game chat.
•Don’t share your account details, like passwords, with other gamers or even your friends.
•Never agree to meet a fellow gamer offline if you do not know them in person.
•If something happens that makes you feel scared or uncomfortable, tell an adult you trust.
The following are important tips from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) regarding texting and cyberbullying.
•Never respond to harassing or rude comments.
•Save or print the evidence.
•Talk to your parents or guardian if you are harassed and get help reporting this to your ISP, school, or local law enforcement department if you feel threatened.
•Report anyone you don’t know who asks for your personal information, photos, or videos.
•Report inappropriate or obscene material from people or companies you don’t know.
Tips To Prevent Sexting
•Think about the consequences of taking, sending or forwarding a sexual picture of someone underage, even if it’s of you.
•Never take images of yourself that you wouldn’t want everyone—your classmates, teachers, family or employers to see.
•Before hitting send, remember that you can’t control where this image may travel.
•If you forward a sexual picture of someone underage, you are as responsible for this image as the original sender. You could face pornography charges, go to jail and have to register as a sex offender.
•Report any nude pictures you receive on your cell phone to an adult you trust.
Internet Safety Resources:
For additional information on cybersafety in Kentucky, visit . To report cyber abuse visit or call 1-800-THE-LOST.