With 90% of teens using the internet and 31% of the eight to 18-year-olds using computers and internet access, the potential for dangerous situations and encounters is alarming. Online teens frequently communicate virtually with someone they’ve never met: 54% have done so using instant messaging; 50% via E-mail, and 45% in a chat room. In fact, April and June have been designated as internet safety months by President George W. Bush to heighten the awareness across the nation.
To protect our children and youth, Project Click SafeSM has been created to provide awareness, education, and to offer resources for the community on issues relating to the safe use of technology.
According to Dr. Albert L. Etheridge, UPJ president, “In development since October, 2006, Project Click SafeSM enables the university to extend our educational outreach and to help our community address a very important need. Through partnering with school districts, law enforcement, and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, we have tremendous potential to create a safer environment for youth.”
“The partnership with four other school districts is significant in our new initiative to reduce risks that technology poses to our children,” states Dr. Christine Oldham, superintendent, Ferndale Area School District.
Believed to be the first of its kind in the state, the committee is comprised of the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, law enforcement officials, kindergarten through grade 12 administrators and higher education.
The three goals are clear:
1. Awareness: Inform parents and other community members of the technologies being used by children and the dangers associated with them;
2. Education: Offer practical solutions on how to minimize risks associated with technology usage and what to do if it is suspected that a child has been put at risk, and
3. Resources: Provide community members with resources to minimize the risk of technology usage.
These technologies have been defined to be chatrooms; social networking services (i.e., MySpace, Xanga); instant messaging; text messaging; blogs, and cellular telephones.
The efforts of Project Click SafeSM will be coordinated by a steering committee and two working subgroups: a “community” subgroup and a “schools” subgroup.
Tomorrow, Thursday, April 12, the schools subgroup, the Project Click SafeSM Student Advisory Board, will conduct its first meeting. A group of 19 student leaders represent the five partner school districts.
The first subgroup will sponsor a Project Click SafeSM Community Forum to be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Living/Learning Center. A panel of experts, including Pennsylvania Attorney General, Tom Corbett, will present important statistics and facts. A question and answer session will follow.
It is the expectation of the partners and committee of Project Click SafeSM to continue to provide resources to protect our children and youth.
An additional resource is http://www.projectclicksafe.com/, a website developed to share resources and information to minimize technology risk.
Members of the steering committee are: Sergeant Michael Burgan, Richland Township Police Department; Robert Eckenrod, Director User Services, UPJ; Glenn Gaye, Principal, Windber Area High School; Dr. Tammy Haslett, Psychologist, Footsteps Psychological Services; Detective Thomas Keirn, Richland Township Police Department; Robert Knipple, Director Outreach and Professional Services, UPJ; Kimberly Miller, Director, Marketing and Public Relations, UPJ; Scott Miller, Director, Information and Technology Services, Richland School District; Edward Moran, Principal, Ferndale Area Elementary School; Don Civis, Assistant Principal, Greater Johnstown Senior High School; Jeanne Susko, Coordinator, Community Programming, UPJ; Frank Tallyen, Technology Coordinator, Windber Area High School; Matthew Thomas, Assistant Principal, Westmont Hilltop High School; Officer Julie Wagner, Johnstown Police Department, and Eileen Zankey, Guidance Counselor, Ferndale Area Elementary School
For more information, contact the UPJ Office of Marketing and Public Relations at 814-269-2080.
Founded in 1927 and celebrating 80 years, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is a four-year, degree-granting college of the University of Pittsburgh. The university offers more than 40 majors and is known for its engineering technology, education, humanities, natural and social sciences degree programs. UPJ has been ranked “Third in the North” among public comprehensive colleges and universities, northern region, by U.S. News and World Report, America’s Best Colleges, 2007.