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Utah Schools Making Kids Web Wise

Utah Schools Making Kids Web Wise

Posted - Sep. 8, 2003 at 4:43 p.m.



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Jill Atwood ReportingUtah schools are trying to help kids get web wise. One district will introduce a new program designed to sniff out a predator before it's too late.

A startling statistic has come across the Utah Attorney General's desk, prompting immediate action. According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children one in five children from across the country have been sexually solicited over the Internet.

And just this weekend another arrest here in Utah--a man hoping to meet with a 13-year old girl. It happened at Crossroads Mall. A man planned to meet up with the girl for sex, instead he met up with police. The meeting was to be in a public place, but no doubt this alleged Internet predator had plans for a very private rendevous.

Leon Lavender thought he was meeting a 13-year old girl, who through their e-mail correspondence, seemed willing to have sex, but what Leon didn't realize was that his chatroom friend was a police officer.

Dave Allen, National Center For Missing & Exploited Children: "This is someone who validates them. Maybe they are lonely maybe teenage life is hard in general and they are looking for someone they are reaching out, and these predators are there.”

David Allen with the Center for Missing and Exploited children says too often the teenage girl is real and there is no police officer there to interfere. That's why he was at Silver Mesa Elementary today introducing a new computer program called "Netsmartz."

The program is an interactive computer game designed to help kids stay one click ahead of an Internet predator. Jordan School district will be the first to try it; from there they hope it catches on all over.

Denise Orme, Silver Mesa Elementary Principal: "We're pretty safe in using it in the school setting. We always monitor what kids are doing, but we always worry about what's happening at home."

Utah is the first state to introduce Netsmartz into the schools. The Attorney general actually approached the center for their program saying we must get this into schools. Boys and Girls clubs all across the country already have Netsmartz available to them.

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