Press Release
For Immediate Release
December 10, 2007
 
Contact: Robyn Ziegler
312-814-3118
rziegler@atg.state.il.us
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNOUNCES CYBERBULLYING TRAINING

Madigan Honors Officers for Protecting Children Against Online Predators at Annual ICAC Task Force Meeting

Chicago Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced that her office will offer a cyberbullying training program for junior high and high school personnel. Madigan attended the third annual Illinois Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force year-end meeting, where she also presented awards for outstanding law enforcement work against online predators.

With the rise of social networking and instant messaging, bullies are no longer simply a fixture of the school yard, but are often online, out of the sight and earshot of teachers and parents. Cyberbullying occurs when a child is harassed or targeted by peers online or via other digital devices and often can lead to violence. Nearly 60 percent of children state that someone has made mean or hurtful comments about them online, and more than four out of 10 children indicate that this kind of harassment has happened to them more than once, according to an i-SAFE survey of 1,500 students.

“Protecting our children against dangers they face on the Internet is one of our greatest challenges,” Madigan said. “By keeping up with the ways that children use technology to communicate with each other, our teachers, school administrators and police officers can work together to prevent bullying and violence.”

The Attorney General's 90-minute training program will demonstrate what cyberbullying is, how it happens and how educators can recognize signs and take action to thwart this practice. The Attorney General's office will make the training available to middle, junior high and high schools beginning in January 2008.

As part of today's annual ICAC task force meeting, the U.S. Attorney's Office provided ICAC members with UBS thumb drives. Madigan's office loaded the thumb drives with a specialized cyberbullying presentation that ICAC task force members can share with officials in their respective jurisdictions. The thumb drive donation is part of the U.S. Attorney's Office Project Safe Childhood program, a national initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.

Also during the ICAC task force meeting, Madigan recognized three law enforcement officers for their tremendous efforts to protect children from online predators:

  • Jon Ford, FBI special agent and Cyber Crime Task Force special agent;
  • Michael Mitchell, special agent with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and
  • Ken Wojtowicz, detective with the Granite City Police Department, which is a member of the Cyber Crime Task Force and the Illinois Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force .

Madigan's office operates the ICAC task force as part of a national program that was created to help state and local law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative response to offenders who use the Internet and digital devices to sexually exploit children.  Across the country, the program consists of 46 regional agencies which receive funds from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.  In 2007 alone , ICAC task force members have:

  • Arrested 61 offenders
  • Reviewed and processed 539 Cybertips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Issued 368 subpoenas
  • Served 112 search warrants
  • Responded to 242 requests for technical assistance
  • Conducted 38 training sessions for more than 2,700 police, prosecutors and other law-enforcement professionals
  • Conducted 141 Internet safety training events for the public, reaching more than 18,000 Illinois residents.

“From con artists to cyberbullies to online predators, the Internet unfortunately is popular with people who are looking for their next victim, many of them children,” Madigan said. “We rely on our dedicated ICAC law enforcement officers to identify, arrest and convict these offenders. I commend these three officers for their dedication to keeping our children safe from online predators.”

For more information regarding ICAC, please visit www.illinoisicac.org. For more information concerning Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Resources on cyberbullying can be found at http://www.isafe.org/, http://www.ncpc.org/cyberbullying, http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/, http://www.cyberbullying.us/, http://www.cyberbully.org/ and http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov.

Visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov for additional information.

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