Last week, Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath announced a new Web site, www.safeinyourspace.org, designed to educate young people -- and the adults in their lives -- about some of the kinds of dangers they might face online.
McGrath made the announcement at an event at the Attorney General's Office in Helena. He was joined by Superintendent of Public Instruction Linda McCulloch and representatives of the Montana Safe Schools Center at the University of Montana. The site was designed in cooperation with the center.
"We think this site will help start the conversation between young people and the adults in their lives," McGrath said. "Safe in YourSpace encourages children, parents and teachers to talk with one another about how to stay safe online."
"The Internet is a valuable educational tool that gives students access to resources around the world," McCulloch said. "This Web site will help educate students, parents, educators and community members on ways to keep our students safe while they are surfing the Web at home or at school."
The site has specific information for teens, parents and teachers. It covers a variety of topics, including cyberbullying, Internet predators and technical issues for teachers. The section for teens has information and tips on e-mail, instant messaging, social networking and peer-to-peer networking. It also includes a glossary of terms and links to state and national organizations.
McGrath noted that sometimes, young people are more technically savvy than their parents.
"We know kids are going to use technology, and we need to encourage that," he said. "But while young people may know how to navigate pages and sites, they don't necessarily know how to make good decisions about some of what they face on the Net."
The Safe Schools Center at the University of Montana has provided training with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and i-SAFE, a nonprofit foundation that focuses on Internet safety.
"Online predation, identity theft, cyberbullying - these are issues young people have to be prepared for on a daily basis," said Rick van den Pol, director of the Safe Schools Center.