~ McCollum is joined by spokespersons to roll out the cybersafety
initiative statewide ~
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Continuing his innovative approach to the issue of cybersafety, Attorney General Bill McCollum today unveiled several new resources to fight cybercrime, including Operation SafeSurf, a cybersafety
website located at http://www.safeflorida.net. Speaking at press conferences in Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando, Attorney General McCollum was joined by spokespersons supporting the initiative including Matt Bryant, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers star kicker; Alicia Kozakiewicz, a teenage survivor of internet solicitation and abduction; Bill Montford, the Chief Executive Office of Florida Association of District School Superintendents; and representatives from local law enforcement, legal, and business communities.
“The issue of cybersafety is one widely recognized for its importance and its relevance to children, teenagers and adults throughout our state,”
said Attorney General McCollum. “While it certainly is important to have stronger laws against internet sex predators and child pornography, it is just as important for internet users of all ages to be aware of the dangers often encountered online and to understand and employ basic safety tips for
surfing the internet. Awareness and prevention are the most effective
tools we have to keep our families safe.”
The campaign was kicked off earlier today in Tampa, where Attorney General McCollum was joined by Matt Bryant, Alicia Kozakiewicz, Bill Montford, and Maureen Horkan, Director of the Attorney General’s Child Predator Child Predator CyberCrime Unit.
“There is already enough to worry about when raising children without the dangers often lurking on the internet. I look forward to working with Attorney General McCollum as he works to protect Florida’s children from
internet predators,” said Bryant, who said his commitment to the
cybersafety initiative was due in large part to his family.
After launching the program in Tampa, Attorney General McCollum traveled to New River Middle School in Ft. Lauderdale, where his discussion with students focused on internet safety tips and the importance of knowing who they are talking to online before giving out personal information such as addresses or phone numbers. Alicia Kozakiewicz, who was abducted when she was 13 years old and abused for several days by a man she met over the internet, shared her story with the students. She stressed how important it is to be extremely careful when chatting or messaging online.
“Having been the victim of an internet predator, I know all too well the dangers kids face on the web,” Alicia told the middle schoolers. “I can’t alter my past or the pain I have suffered, but I can affect the future; together, we can and will affect the future.”
Attorney General McCollum announced that beginning this fall his office will be presenting CyberSafety programs in schools across the state.
The presentations will feature information that will enable school children to identify potential internet threats so they can protect themselves. The school-based initiative will also include the further development of the Internet Student Advisory Council which matches technology-savvy teenagers with the CyberCrime Unit’s law enforcement team. Attorney General McCollum also emphasized the importance of the support provided by the District School Superintendents who will be instrumental in helping reach Florida’s school children with the message on cybersafety.
“Florida’s school superintendents recognize that the threat of internet predators to the health, safety and welfare of Florida’s school children is both alarmingly real and dangerous,” said Bill Montford, with the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. “Every school superintendent in this state places the safety of school children at the top of the list of their daily concerns, and welcomes the opportunity to serve with Attorney General McCollum in leading a statewide campaign to effectively educate students, parents and school communities about the safe uses of the internet.”
The third press conference in Orlando was held at a local Boys and Girls Club, where the Attorney General was joined by Steve Halliwell, Microsoft Account Team Unit Manager for State and Local Government. The software company, which has a long-standing relationship with the Boys and Girls Clubs nationally, will support the Attorney General’s efforts.
“Microsoft is proud to coordinate with law enforcement officials on a local basis to help educate kids and teens about the resources they have available to keep their Internet experiences productive, fun and safe,”
said Halliwell. “The resources that will result from Operation SafeSurf will be of tremendous value in helping young people here in Florida to stay safe online. Microsoft is committed to helping children, teenagers and adults here and across the U.S. to apply rules of safety from the real world to activities in the online world.”
Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will be producing PSAs featuring the CyberCrime spokespersons, including Matt Bryant and professional surfer Kelly Slater, who has also endorsed the initiative.
The cybersafety webpages, accessible through
http://www.safeflorida.net, provide valuable information to adults, teens and younger children about staying safe while surfing the internet. The SafeSurf children’s page includes several entertaining and educational games that teach internet safety, while the SafeSurf teen page offers tips on safeguarding personal information, avoiding dangerous situations. A teen webpage also has a link to the CyberCrime Unit’s MySpace page and stories from teenagers who were victimized on the internet. The SafeSurf page for adults provides a guide to popular internet language used in chat rooms and gives safety advice on how to monitor what children are doing on the internet.
More information about the Attorney General’s CyberSafety initiative is available online at http://safeflorida.net/safesurf
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List of Attendees
Attorney General Bill McCollum
Bill Montford, CEO, Florida Association of District School Superintendents Maureen Horkan, director, Child Predator CyberCrime Unit MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough County Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox, Pinellas County Superintendent Colonel Gary Terry, Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office Rita Miller, Sex Crimes Bureau Chief, 13th Circuit State Attorney’s Office Chief Nolan McCloud, Auburndale Police Department Chief Bill McDaniel, Plant City Police Department Lt. Luzenski, representing Chief Steve Hogue, Tampa Police Department Roy Moral, Principal – Wimauma Elementary School, Hillsborough County John Copeland, Principal – Memorial Middle School, Hillsborough County Scott Fritz, Principal – Wharton High School, Hillsborough County Madeline Leon, Social Worker – Memorial Middle School, Hillsborough County William Weaver, Language Arts Teacher – Memorial Middle School, Hillsborough County
Attorney General Bill McCollum
Bill Montford, CEO, Florida Association of District School Superintendents James Notter, Broward County Superintendent Brett Cocking, Account Executive for State and Local Government, Microsoft Michael Satz, State Attorney, 17th Circuit Maureen Horkan, director, Child Predator CyberCrime Unit Chief Prosecutor Chuck Mortam, 17th Circuit State Attorney’s Office Ralph Page, president, CrimeStopper Council of Broward County Chief James Scarberry, Hollywood Police Department Chief Daniel Giustino, Pembroke Pines Police Department Chief Ross Licata, Lighthouse Point Police Department Chief Thomas Magill, Hallandale Beach Police Department Chief Larry Massey, Plantation Police Department Asst. Chief Bob Montagano Ft Lauderdale Police Department Chief Chief Kenneth Pachnek, Lauderhill Police Department Sergeant Richard Moore, Davie Police Department Judie Banks, representing Chief George Raggio with the Coconut Creek Police Department Glen Gilzean, Regional Director for the Department of Education
Attorney General Bill McCollum
Bill Montford, CEO, Florida Association of District School Superintendents Gary Cain, president, Boys and Girls Club Steve Halliwell, regional information technology director, Microsoft Maureen Horkan, director, Child Predator CyberCrime Unit Linda Drane, Sex Crimes Bureau Chief, 9th Circuit State Attorney’s Office Commander Matt Irwin, representing Sheriff Beary Alan Abramowitz, District Administrator, Department of Children and Families Deputy Chief Gauntlett, Orlando Police Department, Chief Gary Calhoun, Maitland Police Department Chief Gerald Anderson, Eatonville Police Department Captain Art King, Winter Park Police Department Dr. Nick Gledich, Chief Operations Officer – Orange County