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April 10, 2006 -
Chief Investigator Paul Hamilton awarded Certificate of Achievement by NCMEC for "dedication to the welfare of children."

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With the rise in popularity of the Internet and the prominent role that it is becoming in everyday life, it has become necessary to understand that, as a fairly new medium of communication, it is largely unregulated. As a communications revolution, it’s growth has exceeded our ability to police it and, while the various governments and law enforcement agencies attempt to catch up to the responsibility, it falls to the parents, schools and the vast moral majority to safeguard our children from the various elements that would use the Internet to prey on our youth. The guidelines on this page are made merely to assist those responsible and to provide some helpful suggestions in safeguarding any child’s use in the various functions such as chatting, email and browsing.

On March 10, 1998, FBI Director Louis Freeh, America Online CEO Steve Case, Treasury Undersecretary for Enforcement Raymond Kelly, Senators Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire) and Ernest Hollings (D-South Carolina) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children announced the launch of CyberTipline at the NCMEC's headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. It's purpose is to provide anyone on the Internet with a method to report child exploitation. It's 24-hour operation will report tips to various local, national and international law enforcement agencies.

Please contact the cybertipline via the link above (or by calling 1-800-843-5678) if you have information that will help in our fight against child exploitation. Your information will be forwarded to the appropriate authorites.


NOTE: The documents provided in the links below are in "PDF" format so you will be required to view them using Adobe Acrobat. If you do not have it installed on your computer you may obtain it from the Adobe Systems website here:
Internet Safety: A Guide to Protecting Children in Cyberspace
(Click on the picture to the left to download)
An informational guide, released by the Child Abuse Unit, that covers various topics relating to children and safety on the Internet such as: types of child exploitation, risks encountered online, signs that your child may be at risk, safety tips, a glossary of various terms and an explanation of helpful software.

Personal Safety for Children: A Guide for Parents
(Click on the picture to the left to download)
Comprehensive guide, released at the 2002 White House Conference on Missing, Exploited, and Runaway Children, for parents to help keep their children safer at home, at school, and in the community.(from the NCMEC)

(Courtesy of the NCMEC Website)

Probably the most frightening result of online contact is when a child elects to meet someone in person without the knowledge of a guardian or parent. Since the Internet provides a person to express themselves in a less than truthful manner often, an online contact is not who they absolutely represent themselves to be. Predators are savvy enough to detect a child’s curiosity or need – which can result from a dysfunctional environment or a determination to establish their own identity. Building upon a false sense of trust, the predator will then secure a child’s confidence and encourage a bond that they hope will result in their meeting offline and in person.

This aspect of online safety can confront a child in every use of the Internet whether in chatting, browsing or email. What an adult needs to understand is that objectionable material is not just pornography but can also include various philosophies (anti-Semitism, gender roles, sexual deviancy) to harmful and dangerous information (How to make a bomb, Tips and tricks for hacking or assassination guidelines).

There are various sites on the Internet that allow for “virtual” shopping or other methods of spending money such as online gambling casinos , memberships for various types of access and online auction houses like eBay. While parents are, largely very responsible for their credit information – in the event a situation should arise where a child is able to obtain a parents credit card various problems can arise. Age verification on the internet is very sketchy and not very thorough and that only provides a mediocre defense against unauthorized spending.

A popular aspect of the Internet in the last 3 years is the rise of “file–sharing” and the use of the many “file-sharing” programs (Napster, Kazaa, BearShare) . These programs allow users to directly connect to other computers and transfer or “share” files between each other. The most popular forms of files that are transferred are pictures, music files (mp3s) and movies. A large number of these files are copyrighted and thus, illegal to reproduce. With the role that the entertainment industry has taken in combating this it is becoming increasingly risky to engage in this form of file transfer.

Whether in an organized forum, in a chat room or in instant messaging, people often express themselves much more freely on the internet without the benefit of the normal guidelines or clues a person might normally use when conversing. Thus, what one person may find objectionable may result in anger because, unlike in the “real” world, there is not the benefit of facial expression or tone of voice. It's difficult to know the intensity of someone's feelings and it's very hard to resolve emotional disputes that occur online. In the most extreme of circumstances an online acquaintance who is angered may resort to harassment.

Another danger that can have widespread ramifications is the loss of privacy due to personal information being obtained for nefarious methods. A growing crime that has begun to affect people the world over is “identity theft”. With just a little information a perpetrator can create a false ID or apply for credit cards based on another persons statistics and the result can be months of legal issues and financial problems. Revealing personal information can make a person the target of spam. Spamming is the practice of being inundated with multiple emails – a form of advertising – that may be unwanted and irritating. While, on the surface, this may not seem to be an alarming issue it is well known that personal information is traded amongst various companies and that result can be a seemingly endless flow of “junk” mail – which can be deceptive and, in some cases, objectionable.

It is illegal to threaten or intimidate any person - regardless of the medium it is delivered upon. The threat may be even more dangerous if it is delivered in a public forum or through public access such as a chat room, newsgroup or bulletin board. Threats should not be taken likely and should be reported to the proper authorities should they be deemed serious. The posting of personal information concerning another individual can lead to various dangers and place people in very serious forms of jeopardy.

The Internet is a vast resource of information and can, oftentimes, become overwhelming in the amount that is found on any particular subject. The sources of information that various sites obtain their information from are not often cited and thus it makes it very difficult to verify. It is doubly important that when using the internet as a source that the site that contained any used information be cited itself so that a person may have proof of source. Children need to employ critical thinking skills to help them make sense of the material they uncover and distinguish between fact, opinion, rumors, and lies.



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