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DOJ Ramps Up Online Predator Campaign

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Three agencies have partnered to raise awareness and educate teenage girls about the potential dangers of posting and sharing information online.The U.S. Department of Justice, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Ad Council all are focused on their Online Sexual Exploitation public service advertising (PSA) campaign.

Social networking sites such as Facebook, and MySpace provide a convenient and easy way for teens to post personal information along with pictures and videos, which can make them targets of online predators.

In a study by the University of New Hampshire researchers for the NCMEC revealed that of the one in seven youth who received a sexual solicitation online, 70 percent were girls.

"The Internet is one of the greatest technological advances of our time, but it also makes it alarmingly easy for sexual predators to find and contact children," said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

"As Attorney General and as a father, I am committed to protecting our children from pedophiles who troll the Internet for kids. The ‘Think Before You Post’ campaign sends a strong reminder to children and their parents to be cautious when posting personal information online because anything you post, anyone can see: family, friends and even not-so-friendly people."

A study done by Cox Communications says that 61 of 13-to-17-year-olds have their own personal profile on social networking sites such as MySpace, or Friendster. Additionally the study found that 50 percent had posted pictures of themselves online and that one out of five teens believed that it is safe or "somewhat safe" to share personal information on a social networking site.

Thirty-seven percent of the demographic said they were "not very concerned" or "not at all concerned" about someone using their information in ways they had not approved.

In another study carried out by the University of New Hampshire for NCMEC, found that 34 percent of youth’s ages 10 to 17 had posted their real name, telephone numbers or home address and 45 percent had posted their real age.

"We are very pleased with our continuous partnership with the Ad Council, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the U.S. Department of Justice," said Andy Hirsch, Executive Creative Director/Partner at Merkley + Partners.

"Online sexual exploitation is front page news and we’re happy that we can continue to lend our services to help educate teens and their families about this potential danger."

DOJ Ramps Up Online Predator Campaign
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