Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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Operation Safe SurfSafe Surf Logo

Internet safety is rapidly becoming one of the toughest issues facing parents and schools today. As Pennsylvania's top law enforcement officer, the Attorney General has made it a top priority to guard children against sexual predators, creating the Child Predator Unit within the Office of Attorney General to investigate and capture online child predators before they strike.

As part of this effort, the Office of Attorney General kicked-off a new Internet safety program called "Operation Safe Surf," designed to help educate kids, parents and schools about the importance of being safe online.

Children are growing up in a digital age and spend a great deal of their time online - instant messaging, researching and shopping. And, while these are all great tools, they need to be used wisely. Children are being targeted by online predators at an alarming rate, so it is critical for us to help them learn how to protect themselves while still enjoying all of the benefits of the Internet. Recent statistics show:

  • 1 in 7 kids was sexually solicited online in 2005 (Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later, NCMEC, December 2006)
  • 89% of sexual solicitations of youth were made in either chat rooms or through instant messaging (Pew Study reported in JAMA, 2001)
  • 13 million youth use instant messaging (Pew Study reported in JAMA, June 2001)
  • 50% of teens talk in chat rooms or use instant messaging with Internet strangers (Market Wire, November 2006. i-SAFE Inc. December 2006)
  • Almost 1 in 8 youth ages 8-18 discovered they were communicating online with an adult pretending to be much younger (Polly Klaas Foundation, December 2005)
  • 30% of teenage girls have been sexually harassed in a chatroom. Only 7% told their parents because they were worried they would be banned them from going online (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2002)
  • 49% of teens have posted personal information on their Web pages - such as name, age or address (Market Wire, November 2006. i-SAFE Inc. December 2006)
  • 42% of parents do not review what their teens say in chatrooms or via instant messaging (Parents' Internet Monitoring Study, June 2005, Cox Communications, NCMEC and Netsmartz, June 2005)
  • Nearly 31% of 8-18 year olds have a computer in their bedrooms and 20% have an Internet connection there (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Study, March 2005)
  • One in ten young people have a handheld device that connects to the Internet (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Study, March 2005)

Operation Safe Surf provides parents and schools with resources and tools to use as they address many of these issues with children. We have partnered with national leaders on Internet safety to provide the latest information on the topic.

Operation Safe Surf is divided into three learning groups: Elementary School; Middle & High School; and Parents/Community Groups.

  • Elementary School: The OAG is pleased to present the acclaimed Faux Paw books and curriculum through a partnership with the Internet Keep Safe Coalition. These materials help younger students understand the basics of online safety through the experiences of the cat, Faux Paw. There are correlating lessons, coloring pages and resources.
  • Middle & High School: The OAG has created an informative DVD for middle and high school students that explains online safety in terms that relate to them. The DVD features actual victim stories and information on how and why kids should protect themselves online.
  • Parents & Community Groups: The OAG created an informative DVD just for adults to help them better understand the importance of Internet safety and the seriousness of the issue. The DVD features victim stories and gives a portrait of an online predator. It also presents information on how and why kids should protect themselves online.