Denver, December 6, 2006 - Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) has partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children(R) (NCMEC) to present the Qwest Connected Family Online Classroom to Minnesota families and help combat online exploitation of youth through increased parental and guardian education.
Online exploitation continues to have a startling impact on the estimated 24 million child Internet users: According to a recent study conducted by University of New Hampshire, researchers for NCMEC, one in seven youths online is sexually solicited, and one in three youths will encounter unwanted exposure to sexually explicit material online. The Online Classroom provides educational guidelines and learning resources for parents and guardians to help reduce the incidence of online victimization.
Qwest has created a coalition of key leaders who are united to raise awareness in Minnesota. This group is calling for 10,000 Minnesota parents and guardians to become informed about online safety issues and prevention tips through the Qwest Connected Family Online Classroom within one year. Minnesota Online Safety Coalition members include:
- Paula Kruger, Qwest executive vice president, mass markets group, leader of the Qwest Online Safety Program
- John Stanoch, Qwest Minnesota state president
- Robbie Callaway, NCMEC co-founder and former chairman of the board
- Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota senator-elect
- Rich Stanek, Hennepin County sheriff-elect
- Sheldon Johnson, Minnesota state representative
- Joe Atkins, Minnesota state representative
- Tim O'Malley, acting superintendent, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Department of Public Safety
- Chief Timothy Dolan, Minneapolis Police Department
- Sergeant William Haider, St. Paul Police Department and Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
- Jim Meffert-Nelson, operations commissioner, Minnesota PTA
- Eleanor Coleman, associate superintendent, Minneapolis School District
- John Moorse, supervisor, Minnesota Department of Education
- Dave St. Peter, president, Minnesota Twins
"As a leader in online safety education, Qwest believes proactive education is the key to safer use of the Internet as more children go online to communicate and learn, especially during the school year," Kruger said. "To encourage education, Qwest and coalition members are asking parents and guardians to visit the Online Classroom to complete the Parent Safety-Net Test and become certified."
The Qwest Connected Family Online Classroom was co-developed by NCMEC and is on the Internet at www.incredibleinternet.com/onlinesafety. The following tools are available in English and Spanish:
- Online Certification - become online safety certified by reviewing expert tips, articles, videos and a downloadable safety kit and take the first step in learning about Internet safety by taking the Parent Safety-Net Test.
- The Parent Safety-Net Test - an interactive quiz that provides parents and guardians with instant feedback on how to help keep children safer when using the Internet.
- The Connected Family Kit - to help families get the most out of technology while using it safely and effectively.
Qwest will donate up to $20,000 to Minnesota schools whose families participate in the online safety certification activity. A $1,000 grant will go to each of the 20 Minnesota schools that have the highest percentage of parents and guardians certified by April 30, 2007.
"Education is a crucial first step that parents and guardians should take to help make their children safer online by taking responsibility for their online lives," NCMEC's Callaway said. "We are proud to partner with Qwest to provide tools like the Qwest Connected Family Online Classroom that can help parents and guardians prepare their families for the possible dangers they may encounter online."
As a steward of technology, Qwest is committed to helping families learn to protect their children from online threats. Since 2003, Qwest has partnered with NCMEC to raise awareness among families on online safety issues and to proactively help combat online exploitation of youth by encouraging increased parental and guardian understanding and education. Qwest currently is expanding its Online Safety Program nationally and throughout its Western 14-state region. For more information visit www.incredibleinternet.com/onlinesafety.
Qwest offers a unique and powerful combination of voice and data solutions for businesses, government agencies and consumers - locally and throughout the country. Customers coast to coast are turning to Qwest's industry-leading national fiber optic network and its Spirit of Service for quality products and superior customer experience. For more information on Qwest, and its various operating subsidiaries, please go to www.qwest.com.
About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
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 419,400 leads. Since its establishment in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 125,200 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 107,600 children. For more information about NCMEC, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit its web site at www.missingkids.com.