SEATTLE, Oct. 11, 2006 - Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children(r) (NCMEC) to present the Qwest Connected Family Online Classroom to Washington families and help combat online exploitation of youth through increased parental and guardian education.
This critical issue 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 youth online is sexually solicited and one in three youth 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.
"The Washington Attorney General's office has worked hard to strengthen laws to keep sex predators out of our neighborhoods and communities, but the Internet can be a tougher place to police so families need to help," said Rob McKenna, Washington Attorney General. "As a father of four, I'm pleased to support Qwest in this important program and encourage Washington families to join us and learn to be safer on the Internet."
Qwest has created a coalition of key leaders who are united to raise awareness in Washington. This group is calling for 10,000 Washington parents and guardians to become informed about online safety issues and prevention tips through the Qwest Connected Family Online Classroom within one year. Washington Online Safety Coalition members include:
- Paula Kruger, Qwest executive vice president, mass markets group, leader of the Qwest Online Safety Program
- Kirk Nelson, Qwest Washington state president
- Rob McKenna, Washington attorney general
- Brook Schaub, international expert and trainer, online safety and computer crimes, NCMEC
- Marty Daybell, office of the Washington superintendent of public instruction, deputy superintendent and chief information officer
- Chief John R. Batiste, Washington State Patrol
- Mike Flood, Seattle Seahawks, vice president, community relations
- Deb Morgan, Washington Parent Teacher Association (PTA) vice president
- Ed Striedinger, Washington Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
- Mark Green, Seattle Public Schools, chief operating officer
- Irene Stewart, Seattle School Board, director
"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," said Paula Kruger, executive vice president, Qwest mass markets group. "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 downloadable safety kits and take the first step in learning about Internet safety.
- The Connected Family Kit - to help families get the most out of technology while using it safely and effectively.
- 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.
Qwest will donate up to $20,000 to Washington schools whose families participate in the online safety certification activity. A $1,000 grant will go to each of the 20 Washington schools that have highest percentage of parents and guardians certified by March 31, 2007.
"Education is the first step that parents and guardians should take to help make their children safer online," said Brook Schaub, international expert and trainer, online safety and computer crimes, NCMEC. "We are proud to partner with Qwest to provide tools like the Qwest Connected Family Online Classroom that can help parents 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 Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), through its operating subsidiaries, is a leading provider of high-speed Internet, data, video and voice services. With nearly 40,000 employees, Qwest is committed to the "Spirit of Service" and providing world-class services that exceed customers' expectations for quality, value and reliability. For more information, please visit the Qwest Web site at www.qwest.com.
About the National Center for Missing and 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 401,200 leads. Since its establishment in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 122,600 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 104,900 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.