ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN AND YMCA PARTNER TO PROVIDE INTERNET SAFETY EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN
Chicago – Attorney General Lisa Madigan today joined with the Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs to announce a new partnership expanding the reach of Internet safety education to include Y-Kids around the state. The newly created E.Y.E.S. Partnership - Educate Youth, Encourage Safety, is a series of Internet safety “train the trainer” sessions for YMCA employees working with children.
Madigan’s office and the YMCAs are hosting the first training in this series today at Northeastern Illinois University. YMCAs participating in the program will utilize techniques offered in the training to teach children how to protect themselves while surfing the Internet. The program was showcased during a news conference at the Lakeview YMCA on Chicago’s North Side.
“My goal is to ensure that every Illinois child can take advantage of the wealth of information the Internet provides, while at the same time, understanding how to steer clear of its dangers,” said Madigan. “I am delighted that the Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs is partnering with us to provide this important information to our kids.”
As part of the E.Y.E.S. partnership, officers from the Attorney General’s High Tech Crimes Bureau will train YMCA staff throughout Illinois. In turn, trained YMCA employees will educate children participating in Y programs on how to recognize and avoid inappropriate communications from online predators.
Illinois YMCAs serve more than 375,500 children under the age of 18 through a variety of child care, camping, sporting, and social activities. YMCAs make computers available in a variety of youth programs and will combine E.Y.E.S. training techniques with computer access.
“As part of the largest non-profit community service organization in America, YMCA has a unique opportunity to communicate with parents and children,” said Steve Cole, President and Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, the state’s largest YMCA Association. “We’re committed to helping keep children safe and are working hard to provide education and information for parents and children throughout Illinois.”
The importance of educating children so that they understand the potential dangers of the Internet, can spot troubling communications, and avoid behavior that increases risks is demonstrated by the results of a recent study conducted by University of New Hampshire researchers for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Approximately 13 percent of teenagers reported that they received an unwanted sexual solicitation online. In addition, 34 percent of children, ages 10 to 17, post their real names, telephone numbers, home addresses or the names of their schools online, where anyone can access that personal information, creating a greater risk that they will be contacted by potential predators. The study is located at www.unh.edu/ccrc.
Madigan’s partnership with YMCA is her latest outreach effort to make Internet safety education available for parents and children. Last month, Madigan unveiled her Internet Safety Education Act, Senate Bill 1472, designed to encourage Illinois schools to adopt an age-appropriate Internet safety curriculum for students in grades K through 12.
Sponsored by Senator Dan Kotowski, Senator Arthur Wilhelmi and State Representative David Miller, SB 1472 identifies key topics for instruction, including safe and responsible use of the Internet, and the risks posed by online predators, identify theft, cyber-bullying and harassment, and illegal downloading. The Illinois Senate passed the bill, and it currently is on the House calendar for a vote.
Along with these Internet safety initiatives, Attorney General Madigan works to protect children from online predators through the Illinois Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, which her office oversees. Since January 2006, ICAC has investigated 462 cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, arrested 74 Internet predators, and trained more than 30,000 parents, children and educators.More information can be located at: http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/children/child_hitech.html