Georgia Governor Teams Up With State Agencies and Verizon to Promote Internet Safety for Children

ATLANTA - Gov. Sonny Perdue teamed up with Verizon and a host of state agencies Thursday (Oct. 25) to promote Internet safety and help keep children safe online.

The governor led a forum on child Internet safety -- in conjunction with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Georgia Public Broadcasting, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Verizon -- at Georgia Public Broadcasting.

"While the Internet has opened a wonderful world of opportunities and information, it also can be dangerous," the governor said. "The safety of our children is paramount, and it is important for state officials, community leaders and corporate partners such as Verizon to come together to provide parents with the best possible information on how to protect their children."

During the forum, Verizon also announced that its philanthropic arm, the Verizon Foundation, has awarded $35,000 in grants to two Georgia-based organizations to develop innovative programs on Internet safety.  The recipients and their grants are:

  • Georgia Public Broadcasting, $25,000, for its Georgia Cyber Safety Initiative: An Awareness and Action Campaign.  GaCSI is designed to be a comprehensive, culture-changing program empowering children and teens with the knowledge, skills and ability to stay safe online.  The grant will enable completion of the community education component of GaCSI.

  • Georgia Family Council, $10,000, for its Play it Safe program, a parent's guide to Internet safety.

"Providing a safe online environment for children is a priority for Verizon," said Michelle Robinson, Verizon senior vice president - Southern region. "Verizon is proud to partner with Gov. Perdue and all our state and local partners to bring this valuable information to the community."

In addition to Perdue and Robinson, other forum panelists were: David Nahmias, U.S. attorney, Northern District of Georgia; Kelley Bradshaw, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; Sue Dowling, forensic computer specialist, Georgia Bureau of Investigation; Tod Keys, school safety coordinator, Georgia Emergency Management Agency; Garry McGiboney, director, Safe and Drug Free Schools, Georgia Department of Education; and Michael McKeehan, executive director, Internet & technology policy, Verizon.

The participants discussed the challenges of keeping children safe on the Internet and the issues facing families in dealing with online safety and security.

"With our statewide broadcast coverage and strong commitment to using the Internet and other emerging technologies to benefit K-12 education, we believe Georgia Public Broadcasting is the logical choice to take the lead on cybersafety information and education," said GPB Executive Director Nancy Hall.  "GPB is widely trusted and respected by parents and educators, and the perfect partner for the Georgia CyberSafety Initiative."

Verizon is engaged in Internet safety on multiple fronts.  The company provides customers with an industry-leading slate of online cyber-security tools and education programs to empower parents and children.  Verizon also works closely with law enforcement to assist with investigations involving crimes against children, and with partners such as iSAFE (http://www.isafe.org/verizon/) to deliver tools and information to various segments of the community. 

Georgia Public Broadcasting is Television, Radio and Education: the PBS station serving all of Georgia; the source for great music and NPR news; and Georgia's source for top-quality multiple media educational products and services available statewide via satellite, the Internet, and other cutting edge information and communications technologies such as podcasting and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) is the lead state agency for coordination of emergency and disaster response activities. GEMA's School Safety Unit provides services that help schools have a safe and secure school year. GEMA's school safety coordinators offer training and technical assistance to educators, emergency management and public safety personnel. This includes site surveys and safety audits and classes on weapons screening, school bus safety, gangs, bullying, exercise design and bomb threat management. They also respond to school crises. For more information on school safety or GEMA's School Safety Unit, call GEMA toll-free in Georgia at 1-800-TRY-GEMA or visit www.gema.state.ga.us. For more information on specific risks in your area and how to prepare for them, contact your local emergency management agency.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is an independent, statewide agency that provides assistance to the state's criminal justice system in the areas of criminal investigations, forensic laboratory services and computerized criminal justice information. The Bureau's Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force assists state and local law enforcement agencies in developing an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases. This support encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services, prevention and community education. The ICAC Program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims. The Georgia ICAC Task Force Web site is www.familyinternet.info and the GBI Web site is http://gbi.georgia.gov/.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 62 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.