Editor's Note: The following is a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for Western Washington. See also the Lake Washington School District's Guidelines for Safe Student Electronic Communications here.
New School Year an Opportunity to Highlight Cyber Safety
U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan is kicking off the new school year by reminding parents and guardians of things they can do to keep their children safe online. While computers, smart phones and game consoles can have great benefits, parents need to know the risks they bring and talk to their kids about it. Cyber safety for elementary and middle school children is a critical concern. Recent data indicates 13% of elementary school children have received some type of sexual solicitation or approach through the Internet. In the State of Washington that would translate to almost 60,000 of the 400,000 elementary aged children.
“We need to protect our kids in the virtual world. Modern technology gives us many ways to learn and stay connected. But it can also make our children vulnerable to predators and con artists. Social pressures can also lead to bullying, or to behavior with criminal consequences kids don’t fully understand. I urge parents and guardians to take this opportunity before school starts to talk to their kids about cyber safety. Set some ground rules and make sure you know what your child is doing online,” said U.S. Attorney Durkan.
The U.S. Attorney is sending information sheets to public and private elementary and middle schools in Western Washington so that they can be printed and placed in the first day packets of information that go home with students, or posted on the school website. The information has a link to www.netsmartz.org – a great resource for families wanting information about all types of cyber security.
Over the past year law enforcement in Western Washington has investigated cases of sex offenders and others using the Internet, including social media and games, to disguise their identities and troll for young victims. Cyber bullying, identity theft and financial fraud can also victimize families via the Internet.
The materials sent to the schools can be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office website at http://www.justice.gov/usao/waw/Programs/psc.html. This fall the U.S. Attorney’s Office will join with federal law enforcement experts and local PTSA organizations to sponsor information nights where parents and guardians can get more information on cyber security.
U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan is Chair of a Department of Justice committee on Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Enforcement.