WASHINGTON, D.C., April 3, 2008—The Qwest Foundation and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children®(NCMEC) today announced the addition of a bilingual telephone hotline to NetSmartz411, a first-of-its-kind, free online safety resource for parents, guardians, children, teens, educators and law enforcement to raise online safety awareness and keep children safer on the Internet.
NCMEC announced last year that the number of reports of online sexual enticement of children to their CyberTipline had nearly doubled from 6,374 in 2006 to 11,386 in 2007. That increase inspired an immediate response from the Qwest Foundation to help supply more families with access to Internet safety resources by funding the new toll-free hotline, which provides direct contact with experts by dialing 1-888-NETS411 (1-888-638-7411).
Today’s announcement of another $350,000 contribution brings the Qwest Foundation’s investment in NetSmartz411 to $850,000. Created and managed by NCMEC, NetSmartz411 debuted as an online helpdesk at NetSmartz411.org in February 2007. In the first year, it received more than 256,000 visitors who submitted nearly 1,000 questions that covered topics like cyberbullying, wireless mobile devices, online gaming, social networking and virtual worlds.
“The Qwest Foundation is proud to continue its support of NetSmartz411 and grow its relationship with NCMEC to ensure a safer, more enjoyable Internet experience for all users,” said Paula Kruger, Qwest executive vice president of Mass Markets, leader of the Qwest Foundation’s online safety efforts, and member of the NCMEC board of directors. “Qwest and the Qwest Foundation believe it’s crucial for families to learn how to help keep their children safer online, and the foundation is pleased to augment last year’s online resources with the new hotline and the support of members of Congress.”
Using NetSmartz411, families can now submit their online safety questions in two ways. They can access NCMEC experts immediately from noon to 8 p.m. Eastern time in English or Spanish by calling 1 888-NETS411 (1 888-638-7411). They can also continue to submit questions in writing at NetSmartz411.org, where the experts will respond within one business day via e-mail. In addition, individuals can search the extensive online safety knowledge base at NetSmartz411.org to learn more about issues related to Internet safety and online security, and see the questions that others are asking.
“The first year of NetSmartz411 has been a tremendous success, reaching more than a quarter of a million people in more than 150 countries around the world. That feedback tells us that families everywhere are looking for help in keeping their children safer online and that they need more personal interaction with online safety experts,” said Ernie Allen, NCMEC president and CEO. “We are grateful to the Qwest Foundation for recognizing that need and making it possible, through the new hotline, for those parents and guardians without Internet access or who are more comfortable with a live conversation, to still have access to these important resources.”
Qwest and the Qwest Foundation have a long-standing commitment to online safety education. The Qwest Foundation and NCMEC have been working together to combat the online victimization of youth since 2003. Qwest and NCMEC also co-created the Online Safety Classroom resource located at www.IncredibleInternet.com/onlinesafety to provide parents and guardians with necessary resources to learn how to help keep their families safer on the Internet. Qwest works with key community leaders in education and government to raise online safety awareness. These efforts have reached more than 250 million individuals since 2003.
NCMEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. NCMEC's congressionally mandated CyberTipline, a reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation, has handled more than 570,000 leads. Since its establishment in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 140,900 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 124,500 children. For more information about NCMEC, call its toll-free hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit www.missingkids.com
About the Qwest Foundation
The Qwest Foundation's core principle is that investing in people and communities provides lasting value for the future. The Qwest Foundation awards grants to community-based programs that generate high-impact and measurable results, focusing on pre-K through grade 12 education.