Utah Launches Statewide Internet Safety Program

Utah Launches Statewide Internet Safety Program

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News Specialist Jed Boal reporting The internet can be a dangerous place for children to play, and safe surfing is not something Utah schools are going to take for granted. So they're teaming up with new partners to expose hidden dangers on line.

Chelsey and Michael Rose are getting an education in web safety on the NetSmartz workshop. They say children can easily find or accidentally get in trouble with chat rooms or web sites.

Chelsea says, "It's scary stuff. But me and my friends talk about it a lot. I tell my friends not to get on the internet a lot, not to get in chat rooms if they do."

Today, the attorney general unveiled NetSmartz for all Utah schools. The interactive program teaches students and parents about the dangers of predators, pornography and giving out too much information on the internet.

National statistics show one in five children are solicited for sex while on-line. 83-percent of Utah children have seen some type of porn on the internet.

Arrests and convictions of on-line predators continue to rise.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says, "We know we're just hitting the tip of the iceberg. The best way to protect our children is education."

Vicky Dahn, the Cirriculum Director for the State Office of Education, knows the problem first hand. "My own 16-year-old niece linked up with a sexual predator in a chat room and her life will never be the same."

Amy Sisam has used the Netsmartz Workshop with her students in Lehi at Snow Springs Elementary. She says students are eager to learn more.

"When they started learning how easy it is for adults to target them, and how they can track them down to their classroom or home address, it became a very real and present danger for them."

Educators say it's critical for parents to talk with kids about what they're doing on the computer. This workshop helps start that dialogue.

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