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  Illinois State Police News Release   

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Gov. Blagojevich reminds young internet users of potential online dangers

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Press Release Date: May 14, 2008    || Archived August 15, 2008

Illinois State Police kicks off summer NetSmartz training; provides safety tips to protect children while online

As school children and parents across the state prepare for summer dismissal, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Larry G. Trent today reminded adolescents and parents of the dangers associated with using the internet. The announcement comes as the ISP kicks off a summer tour of NetSmartz training workshops that combine the newest technologies and current research into high-impact educational activities that teach kids how to stay safe from predators while online.

“When summer arrives and school lets out, young people have even more time to spend surfing the Web,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “We need to make sure kids and their parents are aware of potential dangers they could encounter online. This program helps prepare them to avoid potential dangers as they use chat rooms, instant messages, and other online tools.”

In 2006, Governor Blagojevich established the ISP Internet Crimes Unit (ICU) to fight internet crime, protect families and communities from sexual predators, and give law enforcement the tools and resources they need to go after criminals. The ICU is dedicated solely to combating online crime, including identity theft, child pornography and drug solicitation.

Since the NetSmartz workshops began in 2006, over 20,000 students, teachers and parents have received the ISP training through schools and community organizations around the state.

“We are trying to educate those most vulnerable to be careful when using the internet especially during the summer when kids have more free-time,” said Director Trent. “Kids are off school and spend more time talking to their friends online. Parents need to know who their kids are chatting with online and be aware of online predators.”

During a NetSmartz workshop, ISP Safety Education Officers will teach individuals how to recognize online risks and provide statistics, resources, and tips for keeping children safer online. The workshop also encourages teens to examine their online behavior and take steps to prevent victimization of themselves and others. Younger children are taught what to watch out for on the internet and how to avoid these risks.

The ISP Internet Crimes Unit typically offers the following tips to children as they learn safety tips through NetSmartz:

  • Do not give out personal information without a parent’s permission. For example, never give out your address, telephone number, parent’s work address/telephone number, or the name or location of your school without a parent’s permission.
  • Never make plans to get together with someone you meet online without asking for a parent’s permission first. If you decide to meet with someone, make sure you meet in a public place, and bring a parent along.
  • Do not send pictures of yourself to anyone without a parent’s permission.
  • Don’t engage in any conversation that makes you uncomfortable or that you do not understand.
  • Your social network profiles should always be set to private (for example MySpace), in order to avoid unwelcomed members.
  • Instant Messenger programs should only be used to chat with people you know personally. Don’t talk to strangers. People may not be who they say they are. The 14- year-old girl who wants to be your friend may be an online predator.
  • Pick a user name that doesn’t include any personal information. For example, “joe_glasgow” or “jane_liverpool” would be bad choices.
  • What goes online stays online. Don’t say anything or publish pictures that might cause you embarrassment later.
  • Don’t let peer pressure or what other people are doing on these sites push you into doing something you’re not comfortable with. Just because other people post their mobile phone number or birthday, doesn’t mean you have to.
  • Don’t do or say anything online you wouldn’t say offline.
To schedule a summer NetSmartz training program, individuals can contact a Safety Education Officer at any ISP headquarters. The training is free for all schools, parent groups and civic organizations. If you encounter a problem on-line or would like to report a crime, contact the ISP at 1.888.70CRIME or click on the Internet Crimes Unit Link on any of the State of Illinois websites.

For more information contact:
Public Information Office
Telephone: 217-782-6637
TDD: 1-800-255-3323

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