Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the launch of a new education program designed to combat sexual predators using the internet to target youth. The centerpiece of the program is an interactive website that provides youth, parents and educators with tools to protect kids while they are online. The website, www.doj.state.or.us/oricac, was created by the Department of Justice's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). The launch of the website comes on the same day the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Ad Council announced the second year of their Don't Believe the Type campaign against online enticement of children by sexual predators.
Along with the launch of the ICAC website, the ICAC Task Force developed a training course and materials to use in educational programs for students, parents and teachers. This program provides youth with information about safe "surfing," identifying signs of sexual predators and what to do if they receive unwanted sexual solicitations while online. For parents, the web site and the educational program provides important resources for creating a safe-surfing environment within the home and tips for identifying and reporting possible child victimization. Finally, for educators, the web site and the educational program provide
slinks to classroom resources and in-person educational seminars available through Oregon's ICAC Task Force.
"The unprecedented and alarming explosion of sexual exploitation of our children on the internet, as well as the steady increase in child pornography must be met head on," Myers said. "The Task Force offers resources to empower all Oregon families and educators in the fight against these atrocious crimes."
According to Youth Internet Safety Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2001, "one in five children (10 to 17 years old) receives unwanted sexual solicitations online." The same survey also concluded that one in 33 youth received an aggressive sexual solicitation. This means a predator asked a young person to meet somewhere, called a young person on the phone, and/or sent the young person correspondence, money, or gifts through the U.S. Postal Service. Since the survey was completed, access to the Internet has increased by over 110 percent in the United States.
In conjunction with the launch of the website, Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo joined Myers in sending a letter to all Oregon school superintendents and principals providing details related to the website, an icon and link to the homepage, and a suggestion that schools include the link on their own homepage. The letter also offers assistance in providing onsite training.
"The safety of Oregon's youth must be one of our highest priorities," Castillo said. "In the 21st Century that means not just safeguarding our classrooms and playgrounds, it means vigilance about the risks in using the internet."
The ICAC Task Force was created in 2004 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that funds the staffing of two criminal investigators who work closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to provide prevention services as well as investigation and prosecution of internet crimes against children.
Since January, 2005, the criminal investigative component of the ICAC Task Force, known as "Operation Black Ice" has investigated over 60 allegations of child pornography, enticement of children and obscenity directed to minors. It has conducted 12 search warrants, over 50 forensic examinations of computers, and at least seven arrests of suspected offenders.
Kevin Neely, Justice, (503) 378-6002