Penn State Partnership to Protect Children Online Highlighted at Press Conference
By Suzanne Wayne (April 2007)
State College, PA. - College of Education Dean David Monk and College of Information Sciences and Technology Dean Henry “Hank” Foley joined Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett recently at Corl Street Elementary School in State College to announce a new campaign to teach students the importance of Internet safety.
The campaign, sponsored by the national Internet Keep Safe Coalition, has support from industry as well as governors and attorney generals throughout the United States. Penn State’s College of Education has partnered with the coalition in the creation of curricular materials for teachers to use in lessons on safe Internet use.
The materials will be used in elementary schools throughout the state as part of Corbett’s Operation Safe Surf program to educate young children and their families about how to stay safe online.
“Studies have shown that 60 percent of boys who are bullies in middle school are convicted of one crime by the age of 24,” Corbett said in the news conference held at Corl Street Elementary.
With the Internet providing another medium for bullies, “early intervention is key for children to be good decision makers online,” said Corbett before reading a new children’s book about cyber-bullying to the school’s third, fourth, and fifth graders.
Monk recognized the importance of partnerships in these efforts: “The College of Education understands that Internet safety for children needs to be a central part of our curriculum for all new teachers. The Internet Keep Safe Coalition is a wonderful partner that shares our commitment to using prevention as the best method to avoid problems.”
The Penn State College of Education is using money from a TIFF grant to develop new educational materials that teachers can use in conjunction with the Coalition’s most recent book, Faux Paw Meets the First Lady, which focuses on cyber-bullying.
Foley praised the coalition for its “new and innovative approach to protecting our children on the Internet,” noting the campaign’s books and movies are good tools for teaching children how to navigate cyberspace. He also saw a role for IST in partnering with educators on the development and dissemination of curricular materials.
“We stand ready to help however we can,” Foley said.
The Internet Keep Safe Coalition group teaches basic rules of internet safety to children and parents, reaching them online at IKeepSafe.org and in school. They seek to teach children the 3 KEEPS™:
1. I Keep Safe all my personal information.
2. I Keep Away from online strangers.
3. I Keep Telling my parents or a trusted adult what I see on the Internet.
The Coalition has also developed two books, two movies, and a Web site, all featuring an animated character named Faux Paw the Techno Cat. The materials teach children the importance of protecting personal information and avoiding inappropriate places on the internet.
The Internet Keep Safe Coalition is a non-profit organization founded by Jacalyn S. Leavitt, Utah's first lady from 1993 to 2003. Governors and/or first spouses formed this coalition in partnership with a growing list of crime prevention organizations, law enforcement agencies, foundations, and corporate sponsors.