WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 15, 2007 - As leaders in online safety education, the Qwest Foundation and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children(r) (NCMEC) are announcing NetSmartz411, a first-of-its-kind, free online safety resource for parents, guardians, children, teens, educators and law enforcement to help raise online safety awareness and keep children safer online. Members of Congress will participate in the announcement today at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., including: U.S. Sens. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Missing, Exploited and Runaway Children; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; and U.S. Reps. Bud Cramer, D-Ala., and Nick Lampson, D-Texas, co-chairs of the House Congressional Caucus On Missing and Exploited Children.
Online exploitation continues to have a startling impact on the estimated 24 million young Internet users. According to a recent study conducted by the 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.
NetSmartz411 is debuting as an online resource that will be managed by experts at NCMEC, and located on the Internet at www.NetSmartz411.org.
Using NetSmartz411.org, anyone can directly access experts at NCMEC who will begin responding to their questions within one business day. Individuals can also search the extensive online safety knowledge base to learn more about issues related to Internet safety and online security.
"Parents and guardians have a very tough job keeping up with their children in this ever changing world of technology," said Ernie Allen, NCMEC president and CEO. "Thanks to the Qwest Foundation, for the first time, they will have direct access to NCMEC experts through NetSmartz411 who can respond to their specific questions and concerns to open up the lines of communication to help bridge the technology gap."
"The funding of NetSmartz411 is a natural fit for the Qwest Foundation and continues our relationship with NCMEC to ensure a safer, more enjoyable Internet experience for all users," said Paula Kruger, executive vice president and leader of Qwest and the Qwest Foundation's online safety efforts. "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 bring this resource to families with the support of Members of Congress."
NetSmartz411.org takes questions about a variety of issues, including how to report Internet crime. For example, parents can ask, "How do I know when my child is putting herself at risk of being lured by a sexual predator?" or, "What is a chat room and how does it work?" Experts will respond directly to specific questions, and timely information generated from these queries will be incorporated into the site's knowledge base. Individuals can also search the NetSmartz411 library for computer, Internet and Internet safety-related material. The most frequently asked questions will be featured on the home page.
The funding of NetSmartz411 by the Qwest Foundation complements the company's commitment to online safety and leadership in online safety education. Qwest Communications and NCMEC have been working together to combat the online victimization of youth since 2005. 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 across its Western 14-state region to raise online safety awareness. In 2006, Qwest reached more that 200 million people with online safety information.
NetSmartz411 is powered by CA's Unicenter(r) Service Desk, an award-winning solution that helps organizations address complex service and support requirements. In addition to providing the service management solution, CA (NYSE: CA) provided on-site technical support to assist NCMEC in the installation and configuration of NetSmartz411.
About the Qwest Foundation
The Qwest Foundation's core principle is that investing in education 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 12 education.
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 441,900 leads. Since its establishment in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 127,700 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 110,200 children. For more information about NCMEC, call its toll-free hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit www.missingkids.com.