Internet Safety Experts Urge Schools and Parents to 'Educate and Be Wise' for a Safe and Secure Online Experience

NEW YORK - The Internet can be a wonderful and enlightening place for children.  It's a place to learn, explore, read and share their ideas.  But as some children and parents know, the Internet can also be a dangerous and perilous place for those who don't proceed with caution.

Verizon and the Inner-City Scholarship Fund (ICSF) today teamed up to ensure a safe and healthy Internet environment for youth by sponsoring the Be Wise: Don't Trust Who You Don't Know. Surf the Net Safely forum, held at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. 

More than 500 school administrators, teachers, parent groups and students themselves heard from representatives from the United States Department of Justice, the New York Police Department, the New York state attorney general's office, New York City Council Member Gale Brewer, and others about precautions that can be taken to ward off online predators.

"It's all of our responsibility to keep the Internet a safe place for our children," said Monica Azare, Verizon senior vice president for New York and Connecticut.  "The first step in that process is to bring awareness of the hazards of the Web to youngsters, their parents and teachers.  And we need to quickly follow that with ways of preventing abuses, stopping the online bullying, and outing the predators.

"I am proud that Verizon has sponsored these kinds of forums in many of our states and that we have taken a leading role to raise awareness of these online issues.  I am also pleased that we have quality partners like the Inner-City Scholarship Fund to join with us in making the Internet a place to learn and grow," she said.

Susan George, executive director for the ICSF, said, "ICSF is very pleased to work with Verizon to provide this opportunity to the students of the Archdiocese of New York.   As we've all seen, the Internet is a rich teaching and learning tool.  This forum aims to provide greater awareness concerning how to safely maximize those benefits."

Participants at the Apollo also heard from Mary Kozakiewicz, a Pennsylvania mother whose daughter, Alicia, was victimized at the age of 13 by an online predator, transported across state lines and held captive.  Now a 19-year-old college student, Alicia Kozakiewicz has testified before Congress and has partnered with various media outlets to raise the public's awareness of the issue.  Mary Kozakiewicz also shed light on the subject by explaining the methods that predators use to attract children and that were responsible for her daughter's ordeal, as well as the means the Kozakiewicz family took to return Alicia Kozakiewicz to safety.

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 and educate parents and children. The company offers a suite of computer security programs that can keep your PC, information and family safe from known online threats, including viruses, spyware and Internet attacks.  Information on the Verizon Internet Security Suite can be located at http://surround.verizon.net/Shop/InternetSecuritySuite.aspx.

In addition, Verizon Online customers can learn how to keep their families safe when online by visiting some helpful and informative sites, posted together at the Verizon Online portal.  There, customers can find articles, downloads and tools that will help to make the internet fun for the whole family.  The site is located at http://netservices.verizon.net/portal/link/main/safety

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.

About The Inner-City Scholarship Fund
Inner-City Scholarship Fund was founded by the late Terence Cardinal Cooke and a group of prominent executives of many religious beliefs. The Fund currently serves close to 44,000 students (93% minority and 36% non-Catholic) from all religious backgrounds.  A staggering 64% of students live at or below the federal poverty line, yet 99% of high school seniors graduate and of that, 95% go on to post-secondary education.  ICSF funds help bridge the gap between the tuition charged and actual costs to educate each student.

About Verizon
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 63.7 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 nearly 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.