Gov. Blagojevich reminds young internet users of potential online dangers

Governor of Illinois

“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 online 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.

The following NetSmartz programs have been scheduled by the ISP in advance of summer dismissal:

May 14 Lawrenceville Junior High, Lawrenceville
May 15 Lawrenceville Junior High, Lawrenceville

May 15 Middletown Grade School, Middletown?

May 15 Centre Bank, Coal City, Coal City
May 16 Kankakee High School, Kankakee
May 19 Kankakee High School, Kankakee
May 20 Kankakee High School, Kankakee
May 20 Bridgeport Elementary, Bridgeport
May 21 Group of homeschoolers, Homer Glen
June 5 Girl Scout Camp, Carbondale