Training part of Governor’s aggressive plan to fight Internet crime
MORTON – As part of his ongoing efforts to fight Internet crime and protect children from online predators, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that nearly 1,500 students, teachers and parents have received NetSmartz training – workshops that combine the newest technologies and the most current research in high-impact educational activities to teach kids and teens how to stay safe online. The workshops began in October and will continue throughout the year in schools and community organizations around the state. Today, Illinois State Police officers trained students at Morton Junior High School in Central Illinois.
“The Internet is part of our daily lives, and children can spend hours each day on the Web learning and exploring. This program will help prepare our children to avoid potential dangers as they use chat rooms, instant messages, and conduct research online,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The NetSmartz Workshop was developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Boys & Girls Clubs of America and uses 3-D animation, music, and interactive games paired with dynamic activity cards to teach kids about online dangers and how to avoid them.
“Inappropriate use of the Internet can expose our children to significant dangers. The Illinois State Police is proud to offer NetSmartz Workshop training to parents, teachers, and non-profit organizations,” said Illinois State Police Director Larry G. Trent. “Through increased education, we can help to ensure our children’s safety each time they go online.”
During the months of October through December 2006, ISP officers conducted the following NetSmartz presentations:
- 20 presentations involving 847 students from K-4th grade.
- 13 presentations for teachers or school/civic organizations which involved 621 adults.
The Illinois State Police currently has 53 officers certified to conduct NetSmartz Workshop training. For information on scheduling a NetSmartz program or training session, please visit the Illinois State Police Internet Crimes Web site at www.isp.state.il.us/icu, or contact the Illinois State Police Safety Education Unit at 217/524-2525.
The Governor’s plan, announced last Fall, has four main components: creating a centralized Internet Crimes Unit (ICU) under Illinois State Police authority, increasing penalties of Internet crime, maintaining an ICU Web site (www.isp.state.il.us/icu) to serve as a “One-Stop-Shopping” center where the public can report suspicious online behavior and get information about Internet crime and safety, and using the most advanced law enforcement technology available.
The ICU is comprised of ten officers, seven computer forensic investigators, and eight crime analysts. This makes the Illinois ICU one of the nation’s largest state teams dedicated to fighting Internet crimes. The goal is to create a unique enforcement group capable of educating the public, gathering information from the private sector, coordinating investigations with other bodies and agencies of law enforcement, de-conflicting investigative efforts, researching crime, proactively searching the Web for criminal activity, and then performing the required forensic work to further investigative efforts and assist prosecutors in jailing offenders.
The ICU serves as a point of contact for the general public, schools, and the law enforcement community for all questions/concerns regarding Internet safety or crimes like identity theft, financial fraud, and terrorism. The unit also serves as the initial point of contact for citizen inquiries; a repository for public safety information; provides statewide de-confliction for investigations; and offers criminal intelligence analysis for law enforcement agencies and computer evidence recovery for investigations and trial preparation.
Upcoming NetSmartz presentations:
- February 15 - Morton Junior High School, Morton
- February 16 and 19 - Normal Community High School, Normal
- February 20 - Kankakee High School, Kankakee
- February 20 - Vachel Lindsay School, Springfield
- February 24 - John A. Logan College, Marion
- February 27 - River Valley School, Lemont
- February 28 - Dix Grade School, Dix
- March 3 - Boy Scout Merit Badge Day, Bloomington
- March 7 - Normal Unit Teachers, Normal
Safety tips recommended by NetSmartz include:
- Look into safeguarding programs or options your online service provider might offer. These may include monitoring or filtering capabilities.
- Web sites for children are not permitted to request personal information without a parent's permission. Talk to children about what qualifies as personal information and why you should never give it to people online.
- If children use chat or e-mail, talk to them about never meeting in person with anyone they first "met" online.
- Talk to children about not responding to offensive or dangerous e-mails, chats, or other communications. Report any such communication to local law enforcement. Do not delete the offensive or dangerous e-mail; rather, turn off the monitor and contact local law enforcement.
- Keep the computer in the family room or another open area of your home.
- Let children show you what they can do online and visit their favorite sites.
- Have children use child-friendly search engines when completing homework.
- Know who children are exchanging e-mail with and only let them use chat areas when you can supervise. NetSmartz recommends limiting chatroom access to child-friendly chat sites.
- Be aware of any other computers your child may be using.
- Internet accounts should be in a parent's name with parents having the primary screen name and controlling passwords. Parents should also utilize blocking and/or filtering devices.
- Children should not complete a profile for a service provider, and children's screen names should be nondescript so as not to identify that the user is a child.