Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue teamed up with a host of state agencies today to promote Internet safety and help keep children safe online. Perdue led a forum on child Internet safety -- in conjunction with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Georgia Public Broadcasting, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Verizon -- at Georgia Public Broadcasting.

"While the Internet has opened a wonderful world of opportunities and information, it also can be dangerous," said Perdue. "The safety of our children is paramount and it is important for state officials, community leaders and corporate partners such as Verizon to come together to provide parents with the best possible information on how to protect their children."

This forum is another facet of Perdue's efforts to ensure that Georgia's children are safe whether playing in their front yards or surfing the Internet. In September 2006, Perdue announced Georgia's Child Safety Initiative or "CSI Georgia." CSI Georgia added eight special agents and five forensic computer specialists to GBI's High Technology Investigations Unit. Between January and June of 2007, GBI's Internet Crimes Against Children task force caseload increased 380 percent over the previous six month period. They are processing 315 percent more computer media than before, and arrest totals are already up 60 percent.

During the forum, Verizon also announced that its philanthropic arm, the Verizon Foundation, has awarded $35,000 in grants to two Georgia-based organizations to develop innovative programs on Internet safety. The recipients and their grants are:

  • Georgia Public Broadcasting, $25,000, for its Georgia Cyber Safety Initiative: An Awareness and Action Campaign. GaCSI is designed to be a comprehensive, culture-changing program empowering children and teens with the knowledge, skills and ability to stay safe online. The grant will enable completion of the community education component of GaCSI.
  • Georgia Family Council, $10,000, for its Play it Safe program, a parent's guide to Internet safety.

Participants discussed the challenges of keeping children safe on the Internet and the issues facing families in dealing with online safety and security.

"With our statewide broadcast coverage and strong commitment to using the Internet and other emerging technologies to benefit K-12 education, we believe Georgia Public Broadcasting is the logical choice to take the lead on cybersafety information and education," said GPB Executive Director Nancy Hall. "GPB is widely trusted and respected by parents and educators, and the perfect partner for the Georgia CyberSafety Initiative."