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McGuinty Government Helps Protect Children Against Internet Predators

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McGuinty Government Helps Protect Children Against Internet Predators

CYBERCOPS Software Helps Students Stay Safe Online

Ministry of the Attorney General

TORONTO -- The McGuinty government is providing innovative new software to help Grade 7 and 8 students learn to be safe online and protect themselves against Internet stalkers, Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter and Attorney General Michael Bryant announced today.

"The Internet is a powerful learning tool and all students need to know how to use it safely," said Kwinter. "We need to do all we can to keep them from falling prey to stalkers on the Internet."

"We want to ensure that our kids are safe while on the Internet," said Bryant. "We are doing this in a variety of ways, including working with law enforcement and Internet service providers to ensure that we have the cleanest, safest Internet for our children. It also means ensuring that individuals who sexually exploit and victimize our children are vigorously prosecuted."

CYBERCOPS, the interactive Internet safety awareness software, was created by LiveWires Design Ltd., and its content was developed in partnership with the Ontario Provincial Police.

The educational software is part of the broad provincial plan to combat Internet crimes against children. In October 2004, the McGuinty government announced a $5 million provincewide strategy to help police fight Internet luring and child pornography. The strategy is being developed by the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. The government is also taking steps to improve prosecution of Internet-based crimes.

Teachers will be able to use the CYBERCOPS software to educate students and help them recognize techniques used by criminals on the Internet. The program will be available in Ontario classrooms in the fall.

A 2001 survey indicated that 25 per cent of young Canadians have been asked by someone they met on the Internet to meet face-to-face. Fifteen per cent of young Internet users also said they had met in person, at least once, with someone they first met online. Education experts say tools like the CYBERCOPS software are the most age-appropriate to help cyber-proof young Internet users.

"Teaching children how to protect themselves is the most effective way society has of stopping youngsters from being lured over the Internet," Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Gwen Boniface said. "This program allows children to learn how to avoid predators, and is a significant step toward empowering our kids to make the right choices to avoid victimization. The program also allows them to learn the protection techniques in a safe environment."

The Attorney General's Task Force on Internet Crimes Against Kids -- a special working group of Crown prosecutors and police who work on child pornography and luring cases -- is developing policies, tools, best practices and training to improve the way these crimes are investigated and prosecuted.

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