Closely following the statewide launch of a new cyber safety initiative, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum addressed parents, teachers and students Monday at a countywide Internet safety presentation at Caloosa Elementary School in Lee County. Speaking at the invitation of the Lee County School Board, Attorney General McCollum emphasized the growing need for cyber safety education at all levels, from parents in the home to kids and teachers in Florida schools. He also encouraged audience members to visit and use his new cyber safety Web site.
"While it is certainly important to have stronger laws against Internet sex predators and child pornography, education for Internet users of all ages is paramount," said McCollum. "Parents and children alike must be more aware of the dangers often encountered online and understand and employ basic safety tips for surfing the Internet."
After McCollum spoke with the attendees, the audience separated into three groups to receive more in-depth presentations. Members of the Attorney General's Child Predator CyberCrime Unit worked with elementary, middle school and high school students, and adults to focus on age-appropriate Internet safety tips such as the importance of knowing who children are talking to online before giving out personal information such as addresses or phone numbers.
The SafeSurf Web sites provide valuable information to adults, teens and younger children about staying safe while surfing the Internet. The SafeSurf children's page includes several entertaining and educational games that teach Internet safety, while the SafeSurf teen page offers tips on safeguarding personal information, avoiding dangerous situations. A teen Webpage also displays a link to the CyberCrime Unit's MySpace page and stories from teenagers who were victimized on the Internet. The SafeSurf page for adults provides a guide to popular Internet language used in chat rooms and gives safety advice on how to monitor children's activities online.
In addition to the new Web sites, Attorney General McCollum announced that his office will be presenting CyberSafety programs, similar to the ones delivered Monday, in schools across the state beginning this fall. The presentations will enable school children to identify potential Internet threats so they are better able to protect themselves. The school-based initiative will also include the Internet Student Advisory Council which matches technology-savvy teenagers with the CyberCrime Unit's law enforcement team.