Safe Moves, a non-profit organization, is recognized as the leading authority in traffic safety education in the country. Safe Moves has not only been credited with saving thousands of children’s lives through education, but also through legislation with new traffic safety laws.
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IN-SCHOOL INTERNET SAFETY EDUCATION

The Problem

Although teens would vehemently deny this characterization, they are amazingly naïve and malleable. They tend to act on whatever the media has programmed them to accept as cool and hip, and this can leave teens incredibly vulnerable to a variety of negative influences and predators. The rise of internet stalking, or “cyber stalking,” is a parent’s worst nightmare – and one which the majority of teens are ill-equipped to prevent or deal with effectively.

IN-SCHOOL INTERNET SAFETY EDUCATIONCyber stalking, which is a manifestation of physical stalking, is defined as repeated threats or harassing behavior over email, the Internet, or other electronic communications. This type of harassment can take place solely online, or it can escalate into an off-line situation.

According to Ernie Allen, President of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who appeared on this morning’s edition of NBC’s “The Today Show” to discuss Internet predators, fully 20% of America’s children who are currently using the Internet regularly have been the victims of a sexual advance on the web. Teens’ lives are an open book on the Internet. At hot “blogs” like Xanga, LiveJournal, MySpace, Blurty and millions of others, minute details of teenagers' lives are available to anybody, anytime. In a recent article in The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, some startling new data emerged. Internet market researchers Perseus Development project that there will be more than 10 million blogs by the end of 2004, 52% of them by people aged 10 to 19, 40% by 20-somethings.

This is what parents need to know: "In his study of teen blogs, researcher David Huffaker of Georgetown University found that 20% of teens posted their full names, 67% listed their ages, 59% revealed their locations, and 61% divulged some sort of contact information." Bloggers' full names can be Googled by future college admissions decision makers and employers, not to mention people with ill intentions. Many kids are using photo blogs as well, such as MySpace.com, posting pictures of themselves in various states of dress.

The Solution

IN-SCHOOL INTERNET SAFETY EDUCATIONAs is the case with any safety issue relating to children, a multi-faceted approach generally yields the best results. While children need a certain amount of privacy, they also need parental involvement and supervision in their daily lives. But the success of any education initiative must also involve teachers, counselors and the school system.

In this age of overworked and underpaid educators, however, issues like cyber safety almost always fall by the wayside, victims of the lack of funding and the amount of time available for critical programs like these. While a myriad of good programs teaching “cyber safety” are available in the form of books and information on the web, no program currently exists that takes this issue directly into schools to address the victims one-on-one.

Enter “Cyber Safe Moves”!


PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The key to the success of Safe Moves’ programs has been age appropriateness. Rather than gather ALL the students in a K-6 elementary school at one assembly, IN-SCHOOL INTERNET SAFETY EDUCATIONfounder Pat Hines recognized years ago that first-graders learn in a far different way than sixth graders. Therefore, two assemblies per school per day are held to present the program: Grades K-3 in the morning and Grades 4-6 in the afternoon.

Using a combination of age-appropriate pop music, hip sets and costumes, talented actors and presenters and a cohesive plot/script, Cyber Safe Moves, in conjunction with sponsors, will create program curriculum that meets State of California teaching standards. The following cyber safety rules will be included:

  1. Don’t give out personal information of any kind without parent’s permission.
  2. Tell parents right away if you come across any information that makes you feel
    uncomfortable.
  3. Never agree to get together with someone you “meet” online without first letting
    a parent. If they agree, be sure the meeting is in a public place and your parent is
    with you.
  4. Never send a picture of yourself or anything else to someone without checking
    a parent.
  5. Do not respond to any e-mail messages that are mean or make you feel uncomfortable. Tell a parent right away so they can contact the internet service provider.
  6. Talk to parents about setting up rules for going online. Together, decide on the time of day you can go online, the length of time you can spend there, and areas that are okay for you to visit.
  7. Don’t give out ANY Internet password to anyone (even your best friend) other than a parent.
  8. Be a good online citizen and don’t do anything that hurts other people or is against the law.

Obviously, for middle schools and high-schools, the program will be tailored to their jargon, tastes and sensibilities.

Program materials and leave-backs will include a Cyber Safe Moves “Web Safety Checklist” for parents, along with a sponsor coupon and fun trinkets for students.


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