Last week, the Cyber Security Industry Alliance issued a report titled "Teaching Children Cyber Security and Ethics" calling for the creation of a national K-12 curriculum for teaching children how to use the Internet safely and ethically.

According to Paul Kurtz, Executive Director of CSIA, many groups are providing cyber security education for young people. However, "the problem is that there is no national coordination of these programs and no clear leader in this area, leaving parents and teachers confused about where to turn to get information," He said.

Kurtz sees coordinated cyber security education for the nation's children as a way to improve the general state of cyber security in the United States.

The report discusses the current state of cyber awareness education for children K-12 by framing key challenges, describing elements of cyber awareness and providing snapshots of typical education programs for cyber security, cyber ethics and cyber safety.

The CSIA sees a number of challenges facing parents and educators who want to teach the nation's children about cyber security, ethics and Internet safety, including the existence of several different sources of information that often duplicate the advice given and confuse those looking for information. Other challenges cited by the report include the lack of multimedia in cyber security training materials geared toward K-12 students.

"The materials designed to teach children about cyber security need to be as dynamic as the multimedia currently holding our children's attention, such as slick computer games. Software developers, particularly in the video gaming industry, need to incorporate cyber education tools that are visually appealing into the top-grade multimedia programs they design," the CSIA said in a statement accompanying the report.

In addition to the challenges facing providers of content, cyber security and Internet safety education is also hampered by a lack of coordinated funding. "CSIA believes that national coordination of funding would help pool resources and dramatically boost the ability to produce quality curricula and multimedia required for training children," the group said.

"Children today must be aware of the cyber threats that exist, which may cause inadvertent damage to their own PCs and other electronic devices or reveal sensitive, personal information," added Kurtz. "Congress and the [Bush] Administration have committed some resources already to cyber safety, but we believe it is equally important to focus on cyber security and ethics."

Following the findings of the report, the CSIA has several policy recommendations for Congress and the Bush Administration. The first of the recommendations is to design a national program for teaching students in K-12 schools cyber security, ethics and Internet safety to be coordinated between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Education.

The group also advises the creation of an accreditation standard for cyber security education materials provided on the Web.

Along with the creation of a national standards for cyber security curriculum, Congress and the Bush Administration should coordinate funding sources for cyber security education efforts including federal and state governments, private and public corporations, charitable foundations and parents.

One of the first uses of this coordinated funding, the CSIA urged, should include the development of high-grade educational multimedia that keeps students attention while teaching them how to stay safe and promote security of their computers on the Internet. "The Administration and Congress should encourage gaming companies to provide programs as a public service to schools," CSIA said in a statement.