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Back to Archives | Back to May 2004 Contents 

Internet Safety: A Partnership between Law Enforcement & Educators

By James W. Greenleaf, Associate Deputy Director (Retired), Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, D.C.

i-SAFE Safe School Education Initiative

Lessons for Grades K-8
   1. Cybercommunity Citizenship: The cybercommunity's similarities to the physical community, and the need for responsible interactions while using the Internet.

   2. Cybersecurity: The principles of e-mail protocol, including the personal consequences resulting from viruses, worms, flaming, hate e-mail, and so on.

   3. Personal Safety: How to identify the danger signs and strategies to avoid them, recognize appropriate and inappropriate behavior, establish personal information boundaries, refuse to be drawn into potentially compromising or harmful situations, how to report incidents that make students feel uncomfortable or fearful, and understand the negative real-world consequences of revealing personal information.

   4. Predator Identification: How to recognize the techniques used by cyberpredators to contact, communicate, entice, entrap and exploit victims; how predators use chat rooms, instant messaging, and student screen names to gather information. Law enforcement usually teaches this lesson.

   5. Intellectual Property: How to know the legal and ethical way to deal with protected property online; discuss plagiarism or theft of protected property such as music, videos, films, software, and written and visual content; serious negative consequences of failure to follow the law.

Lessons for Grades 9-12

   1. Privacy and the Internet: Internet privacy issues and the risks of privacy encountered while online; the legal acquisition and distribution of personal information; and identity theft via the Internet.

   2. Cyberrelationships: The risks associated with relationships established online; the grooming process a cyberpredator uses to prepare victims for a face-to-face meeting; and harassment and or cyberstalking.

   3. Intellectual Property: Wrongful online appropriation or use of online copyrighted material; the consequences of such conduct; and the need for responsible online behavior.

   4. Security: Code that is potentially malicious such as viruses, worms, and Trojan horses; the consequences of intentionally creating and distributing malicious codes; hacking; and the need for behaving responsibly when using computers and the Internet.

   5. Social Issues: Showing respect for other people's views while online; the destructive nature of hate sites; online etiquette; the consequences of hacking and other online malicious activities; and strategies on how to avoid unlawful online behavior.

Today's youth are the first generation to grow up with the Internet as a part of everyday life. The advances in technology allow young people to reach out to a new universe of knowledge and cultural experiences. They travel through cyberspace frequently, and often alone. But cyberspace also can expose them to harm from Internet predators and identity thieves, and it can tempt them to commit violations of intellectual property rights. Law enforcement and local schools can provide resources to protect the youth and enable them to be good cybercitizens.

Congressional Action
The U.S. Congress recognized the potential of the Internet to exploit young people and has designated the i-SAFE America Inc. Foundation, a nonprofit education organization founded in 1998, to bring Internet safety education and awareness to youth.

The mission of i-SAFE America Inc. is to educate and empower youth to safely and responsibly take control of their Internet experiences. The foundation's goal is to provide students with the awareness and knowledge they need in order to recognize and avoid dangerous, destructive, or unlawful behavior on the Internet. Designed as a proactive prevention-oriented Internet safety awareness program, i-SAFE provides students with the critical thinking and decision-making skills they need to recognize and avoid hazards in cyberspace and how to respond appropriately to those hazards.

In 2002 the i-SAFE Safe Schools Education Initiative and Outreach Campaign received $3.554 million to begin to fulfill its mission and goal. In 2003 Congress increased its support of i-SAFE and awarded it $5 million to continue educating and empowering students nationwide. The Safe Schools Education Initiative and Outreach Campaign were launched in 24 states during 2002-2003 and have expanded into all 50 states during 2003-2004.

Local Police Involvement
The i-SAFE program provides free training and curriculum materials to law enforcement agencies and educators who, in turn, present the program to their local school districts. Police officers and educators are trained together to promote a close working relationship. Once trained on the curriculum (usually in four to six hours), they are free to develop an individualized implementation plan that meets their local needs and priorities.

The entire program has been reviewed and approved by the Child Protective Division of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Program in the U.S. Department of Justice and incorporates the Curriculum Scorecard Requirements of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In addition, i-SAFE has worked closely with the FBI's Community Outreach Program to help train children on Internet safety at selected schools around the country.

Components of i-Safe Education
The i-Safe program is designed as a prevention-oriented Internet safety awareness program divided into three distinct areas: the Safe School Education Initiative, the Community Outreach Campaign, and the Youth Empowerment Campaign. All curriculum, outreach, and youth empowerment materials as well as the professional development program are provided at no charge to schools, school districts, and law enforcement agencies.

Education: The education component teaches and empowers students through innovative, interactive classroom lessons to students in all grades (K-12). Educators and law enforcement officials are trained and certified to teach students and are empowered to train and certify others through i-Safe's professional development program.

Teaching children how to identify Internet predators and how to react when confronted by one is part of the program. In 1996 the FBI was involved in 113 cases involving Internet crimes against children. Between 1996 and 2002, the number of open cases went from 113 to 2,370. The FBI has indicated that child pornography and sexual exploitation of children on the World Wide Web is one of the most significant crime problems that it confronts.

Identity theft has become one of the fastest growing financial crimes. A recent Harris Poll indicated that 90 percent of Americans said they were concerned about threats to their personal privacy, and four out of five believed they had lost control over how their information is used. Newsweek has reported that 87 percent of Americans can be uniquely identified by just three pieces of information: date of birth, gender, and their 5-digit zip code. The education component prepares the youth to avoid having their identity stolen.

Intellectual property theft is also receiving increased attention. Copyright piracy is growing exponentially, with billions of unauthorized music downloads per month occurring online. The Motion Picture Association of America estimates that it already loses more than $3 billion annually to the sale of illegally copied movies; and by some estimates, more than 350,000 movies are illegally downloaded every day. The education component of the program is designed to prepare the youth to be responsible citizens on the Internet as well as protecting them against predators.

Outreach: The outreach component extends the knowledge beyond the classroom, using abilities and resources from community and school leaders, parents, and students to maximize Internet safety awareness. A critical aspect of the I-SAFE Outreach Campaign is public awareness.

An important part of outreach includes getting the community involved by extending the Internet safety concepts beyond the classroom and schools and into the community at large. The strategy for protecting children from victimization encompasses the combination of community members to share the message of Internet safety with their families and neighbors. The i-SAFE community outreach campaign is based on a variety of people working together to provide this valuable information throughout their communities.

Youth Empowerment Campaign: The youth empowerment campaign recognizes that children are their own best teachers. i-SAFE student mentors educate and empower other students in a very effective way: peer-to-peer communication.

The i-SAFE youth empowerment campaign is the vehicle that ties the education and outreach components of the organization together. In the classroom lessons, students are encouraged to join the student mentoring program. These volunteer mentors work together and use peer-to-peer communication to create, plan, and organize activities and events that provide valuable Internet safety information to their schools and communities. Law enforcement assists the mentors by providing ideas, resources, and assistance to maximize Internet safety awareness throughout their respective communities.

Preparing for the Cyberspace Future
Today, the world has changed for law enforcement. Not only does law enforcement need to concern itself with the physical safety of citizens, but law enforcement also needs to be concerned with the cybersafety of its community, especially the children. The use and misuse of cyberspace requires law enforcement to take a proactive role in providing Internet safety training and tools to educate and empower the youth to recognize and avoid dangerous, destructive, or unlawful online behavior. The i-Safe program represents one way for law enforcement agencies to do just that.

For more information, visit - call (760) 603-7911, or write to

  • 605.6 million people use the Internet worldwide, as of September 2002.1
  • There are 2 million new users of the Internet per month in the United States.2
  • 48 million children five to 17 now use computers. One in 33 has received an aggressive solicitation to meet a cyberfriend in person.3
  • Children five to 17 spend 5 billion hours online each year.4
  • 90 percent of children between the ages of eight and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet. In most cases, the sex sites were accessed unintentionally when a child, often in the process of doing schoolwork, used a seemingly innocent sounding word to search for information or pictures.5
  • According to an Arbitron Media study, the majority of teenagers' online use occurs at home, right after school, when working parents are not at home.
  • 75 percent of kids have Internet access at home, and nearly one in three has access from his or her bedroom.6
  • A study by the NOP Research Group found that 29 percent of kids seven to 17 would freely give out their home addresses over the Internet.
  • 30 percent of the girls responding to a Girl Scout research study reported that they had been sexually harassed on the Internet, but only 7 percent told their parents; others feared their parents would overreact and ban computer use.
  • 62 percent of parents are unaware their children have accessed objectionable Web sites.7


From The Police Chief, vol. 71, no. 5, May 2004. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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