Terry Goddard Urges Parents to Discuss Online Safety with Kids

(Phoenix, Ariz. - June 2, 2010)  Attorney General Terry Goddard today recognized the start of Internet Safety Month and urged parents to make online safety part of their summer family discussions.

"Summer brings major changes in school and family activities.  This is the best time for families to discuss Internet safety,” Goddard said.  "With kids home more during the summer, online predators expect they will be spending more time online chatting with their friends, playing games or just exploring the Internet."

The Attorney General and his staff have visited over 200 schools on his Internet Safety School Tour, encouraging parents to talk regularly with their children about how to be safe on the Internet and the importance of telling a trusted adult if something inappropriate occurs online.  This includes sexual discussions, sending explicit photos or videos, sending links to pornography or trying to arrange face-to-face meetings.

Parents and caregivers should carefully monitor how kids use the Internet, including:

  • Checking the websites they use frequently.
  • Searching the social networking sites they visit.
  • Asking to see their online profiles on Facebook, MySpace and other websites and discussing any items they may be posting online.

Additionally, parents and kids need to be mindful that safety concerns now extend beyond home computers to cell phones and laptops.

Goddard also warned parents and teens about the dangers of cyberbullying.  Kids no longer need muscles to bully and torment their peers.   According to Wiredsafety.org, 85 percent of kids say they have been bullied online, but only 5 percent say they would tell their parents about the abuse.

“Bullies are no longer limited to the playground.  It’s very easy to attack someone when you don’t have to see them face-to-face” Goddard said.  “Bullies use chat rooms, email, instant messaging, cell phone calls and websites to embarrass, threaten or intimidate their victims.”  

Here are some tips to protect your child against cyberbullying:

  • Let your children know what online behavior you find unacceptable.
  • Look for signs that your child might be a cyberbullying victim; these could include nightmares, school avoidance or sudden interest in or avoidance of the computer.
  • Block messages from bullies and save evidence that may help identify a bully.
  • If your child continues to receive harassing emails, have them delete their current accounts and help them open a new one. Again, save the evidence in case you need proof.
  • If a cyberbully has posted embarrassing photos or personal information about your child on a website, contact your internet provider for assistance, the website hosting the page, and if necessary, inform local law enforcement to try to get the website removed.
  • If the bully is a fellow student, notify the school and request assistance from the administration and school resource officer.
  • If there are threats or harassment, notify law enforcement.

“Internet safety and preventing cyberbullying are full-time concerns, but during the summer we see a spike in Internet use by teenagers,” Goddard said.  “Early summer is the perfect time for a frank discussion between parents and their kids about internet safety."

For more useful information about Internet safety, please visit the Attorney General’s website at www.azag.govand see our Internet Safety Guide for Parents and Teens or call the Crime, Fraud, and Victim Resource Center at 602-542-2123.