Keeping Our Children Safe Online
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Courtesy of Eileen M. Garry, Acting Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Youth are often the first to embrace new technology and new apps that allow them to communicate and interact with friends online. However, they can also underestimate the negative consequences these new online opportunities present.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and presents an opportunity to educate children on how to act responsibly and protect themselves while online.
At the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, we understand the risks youth face when they are online, from cyberbullying, to high-tech stalking, to online predation. We are committed to ensuring their online safety through education and training.
Cyberbullying is a growing concern, with rapid advancements in technology and increased access to electronic devices and social media. It is similar to traditional bullying but it does not stop when children are in the safety of their own homes. Children are faced with cyberbullying when hurtful information is posted online, when they are excluded from an online community and when they receive unwanted contact via email or instant messaging.
Research has shown that 21 percent of students aged 12 to 18 experienced bullying in 2015, and about 16 percent of all high school students experience some form of electronic bullying. Victims report negative impacts on school, relationships, mental health and physical well-being.
Stopbullying.gov and NetSmartz.org are two OJJDP-supported resources available to children and their parents to learn how to identify and address cyberbullying. Stopbullying.gov is a federal initiative that works to educate communities about the risks of bullying and how to respond to it. NetSmartz is an interactive, educational program that provides age-appropriate videos, games, activity cards and presentations that teach children how to be safe online.
As children spend more time online, the dangers associated with exploitation have also risen. To support law enforcement investigators and prosecutors in bringing online predators to justice, OJJDP hosts the National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation every year. This event provides specialized training for about 1,500 law enforcement officials on technology-facilitated crimes against children.
OJJDP also provides funding to the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force program. Established in 1998, the program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing more than 4,500 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The program supports the development of effective, sustainable responses to online child victimization and child pornography by providing community awareness presentations, online education and additional resources and programs that increase law enforcement's capacity to address internet crimes against children.
When they are online, children and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to criminal acts because they are often naïve, curious and eager for attention. We encourage you to take time to help them learn how to identify dangerous situations online and how to properly respond as they log on to their favorite websites. Through online resources, research, grant funding and additional training programs, OJJDP continues to support law enforcement and parents as they seek to keep children safe online.