Wednesday, August 22, 2012
The top federal prosecutor in the region reminded parents Monday to keep children safe online, especially as students return to school.
Jenny Durkan, U.S. attorney for Western Washington and Issaquah native, sent information sheets to public and private elementary and middle schools in the region, so the material can be placed into students’ information packets or posted on school websites.
Recent data indicates 13 percent of elementary school children have received some type of sexual solicitation or approach through the Internet.
“We need to protect our kids in the virtual world. Modern technology gives us many ways to learn and stay connected,” Durkan said in a statement “But it can also make our children vulnerable to predators and con artists.”
The safety information Durkan sent is also available at the U.S. Attorney’s Office website, and includes a link to http://netsmartz.org – a resource for families in search of information about cyber security.
In the fall, the office plans to join federal law enforcement experts and local PTSA organizations to sponsor information nights to help parents and guardians learn more about cybersecurity.
Issaquah School District students return to class Sept. 4.
In the past year, law enforcement agencies in Western Washington have investigated cases of sex offenders and others using the Internet, including social media and games, to disguise their identities and troll for victims. In addition, cyberbullying, identity theft and financial fraud can also cause problems via the Internet.
“Social pressures can also lead to bullying, or to behavior with criminal consequences kids don’t fully understand,” Durkan continued. “I urge parents and guardians to take this opportunity before school starts to talk to their kids about cyber safety. Set some ground rules and make sure you know what your child is doing online.”
Durkan is chairwoman of a U.S. Department of Justice committee on cybercrime and intellectual property enforcement.