First Lady Jean Rounds launches children’s internet safety campaign

First Lady Jean Rounds launches children's internet safety campaign First Lady Jean Rounds has launched a media campaign to teach South Dakota children the essentials of Internet safety. The campaign, sponsored by the Internet Keep Safe Coalition on iKeepSafe, is a state-supported educational program that uses children�s books, Web materials, and public service announcements (PSAs) to emphasize three simple tips for children to stay safe online. The first lady was joined by child safety and law enforcement officials at Anne Sullivan Elementary School, where Mrs. Rounds read a new children�s book: Faux Paw the Techno Cat: Adventures in the Internet to a classroom of children.

Recent studies show that one in five children receives an online sexual solicitation each year and 29 percent of children freely give out personal information online if asked. The Coalition�s goal is to reduce these statistics by ensuring children understand and practice safe online behavior.

Mrs. Rounds said, �The Internet is a powerful tool that most children start using regularly at a very early age, and as with any tool, we must instruct them to use it safely. We will not stand by, helpless, and watch the children of South Dakota become prey to Internet predators. This threat is entirely preventable through education and awareness if children will learn to protect their personal information. That is why this campaign is vital.�

Jacalyn Leavitt, chair of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and wife of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, added, �This is an unprecedented coalition of people and organizations with a shared priority of protecting children from Internet predators. We can safeguard our children by teaching them the rules of Internet safety. McGruff the Crime Dog�, the icon for the National Crime Prevention Council, has welcomed Faux Paw the Techno CatSM as his partner in �taking a BYTE out of Internet crime.�

Created with input from the FBI Internet Safety Taskforce, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, early childhood educators, and child psychologists, the Coalition�s educational program is built around three basic tips: KEEP. DON�T MEET. TELL.SM That is, KEEP your personal information protected: never give anyone online your real name, address, phone number, the name of your school, or picture of yourself. DON�T MEET anyone in person you�ve found online. And, TELL a parent or trusted adult if you see or receive anything on the computer that makes you feel uncomfortable.

The Coalition is a broad partnership of governors and first spouses, crime prevention organizations, law enforcement agencies, and foundations, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited children, the FBI Internet Crimes Taskforce, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the US Department of Justice, Internet Crimes against Children Taskforce, and the National Crime Prevention Council (agency home for McGruff the Crime Dog�), as well as corporate sponsors such as AOL, Bearing Point, DELL, Seibel Systems, and Target.

�As a trusted customer advocate, Dell�s partnership in iKeepSafe further extends our commitment to ensuring that people of all ages understand how to have safe and secure interactions on the Internet,� said Karen Bruett, director of Education and Community Initiatives, Dell Inc. �Faux Paw and her three rules will be easy for kids to remember and use if they feel threatened online. On our Web site and in marketing materials, Dell is educating our customers about this program because we believe effective customer education and awareness is one of the most critical steps the industry can take to curtail the spread of all online threats.�

Mrs. Rounds introduced the Coalition�s Internet safety icon, Faux Paw the Techno CatTM and her comprehensive package of educational resources for children, parents and educators, including:

? Faux PawTM: A cyber-agent for the Internet age, Faux Paw the Techno CatTM, will become to Internet safety what McGruff the Crime Dog� is to crime prevention. Created by Robotronics, Faux PawTM will initially appear in the pages of a new children�s book and Web site, but will later come to life as a costumed character that will visit schools across the country to give kids Faux Paw the Techno CatSM online safety instruction.

? Faux Paw the Techno CatSM: Adventures in the Internet: A new picture book and animated DVD, written by Jacalyn Leavitt, tells the story of the governor�s curious cat (Faux Paw) who gets into trouble when she agrees to meet a �friend� she�s found in a chat room. The book and animated story are available for viewing online; hard copies may be ordered through the Web site.

? iKeepSafe.orgSM: This new Web site offers a virtual playground of material promoting Internet safety. Parents and children can watch the Faux PawTM animated story, read the book, play games and learn Internet safety tips through Faux Paw the Techno CatSM instruction. The Web site also offers resource materials for parents and educators, including child-friendly safety quizzes, worksheets, Powerpoint presentations, and coloring book printouts.

The Coalition works with participating first spouses and government officials to customize the program for each individual state. The books will be tailored to include a personal letter from the first spouse and to reflect each state�s capitol building and governor. As part of the state-level programs, the Coalition hopes to distribute the book to every second, third and fourth grade classroom in the country as well as promote the program through PSAs and other grassroots activities.

The Coalition is a nonprofit organization, founded by Jacalyn Leavitt, to continue her efforts promoting public health and education. Visit www.iKeepSafe.org for additional information.

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