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For Parents: Steps to Keep Your Child Safe Online

Talk with your child about online dangers. Explain identity theft, cyberbullying, the dangers of meeting someone he or she meets online, and the warning signs that an online “friend” may be an Internet predator interested in sexually abusing a child or teenager.

1. Never underestimate an Internet predator’s persistence.

2. Do not allow your child’s picture to be used without your permission.

3. Teach your children to keep personal information, along with passwords and photos, private.

4. Keep computers in common family areas of your home. Do not allow your child unlimited access to a computer with Internet access, especially in a bedroom or a secluded area of your home.

5. Do not allow your child to use:

  • a webcam in a private location
  • a digital camera without discussing acceptable use with them
  • an evidence eraser, Internet washer or drive scrubber that deletes all traces of what the computer accessed or was used for. An Internet predator may ask the child to use these programs to keep from getting caught.

Regularly search your computer’s Internet history.

1. Let your child teach you what they know about computers. This will help to open up communication and empower your child.

2. Visit your child’s favorite websites with them.

3. Create clear, simple and easy-to-read Internet Safety rules and post near your computer. For an excellent resource, see the Netsmartz Safety Pledges or WhosHostingThis? .

Beware:

  • Child-friendly websites can have links that take a child to a different site with inappropriate material, games or chat.
  • Many handheld devices connect to the Internet.
  • Kids are not only accessing the Internet from the family computer.
  • Those apps that your child downloaded to his Smartphone may not be appropriate and filters don’t catch everything.
  • One app may open up access to additional apps.

Not Appropriate:

  • A new form of social networking takes connecting with friends and family to a whole new level.
  • New social mapping applications for cell phones allow users to meet in person. Common applications are Foursquare, Loopt and Gowalla. These applications track every movement the user makes.
  • Do you know what apps your teenager has on her Smartphone?

Distracted Drivers:

  • 25% of teens say they text while driving.
  • 48% have been a passenger when a driver texted while driving.
  • Teens say their parents are texting fanatics too.
  • Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project (2009)

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4. Make the effort to be informed about computers and the Internet.

5. Have your children log onto the family computer with a single family account that will not restrict your access.

6. Establish limits on phone use, video download time, social networking, instant messaging and other computer pastimes. Some examples of possible limits follow:

  • Place cell phones in family charger by bedtime.
  • Practice safe texting. Never text while driving or walking.
  • Turn off cell phones during family time.
  • Complete homework before using computer, cell phone, MP3 player, etc.
  • Limit social networking to one hour per week.
  • Limit online video viewing/downloading/uploading to one hour per week.
  • Limit gaming to one hour per week.
  • Access only parent-approved websites/social network sites (depending on age of child).
  • Always ask for permission before downloading anything, including apps for handheld devices.
  • Report cyberbullying to parents or caregiver.
  • Report to parents or caregiver anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or scared.

7. Model good behavior. Follow the same technology-use limits that you establish for your children.

8. Make kids accountable. Technology use is a privilege, not a right.  Make sure they earn it.

  • Give kids plenty of opportunities to be successful.
  • Catch them making good choices.

9. Enforce appropriate consequences if rules are broken.

  • Work with your kids to develop a computer/Internet use contract that outlines their privileges, what will happen if those privileges are exploited and what they can expect from you. Sign the contract along with your child and post it near your family computer (see the sample contract (PDF) from the Cyberbullying Research Center)
  • Be reasonable when enforcing consequences. Completely banning the technology is not a realistic solution. Youth will find ways to access the technology elsewhere (for example, at a friend’s house, library or coffee shop).
  • Effective consequences must help the child make better choices next time.
  • Be consistent and follow through.

10. Explain what’s at stake. Let kids know that what they do today may be used against them in the future.

  • Talk with your children about sexting.  Many children are unaware of the legal ramifications and behave in this risky manner thinking it will stay between friends.

11. Find ways to say “yes” That means doing your homework and knowing the sites they visit, the songs they download, etc. — and finding ways to use technology that lets us say “yes” more often than we say “no.”

12. It’s not rocket science. If our children can do it, so can we. Learn to text, send a mobile photo, set up a Facebook page, upload a video. Or have your kids show you how. It’s impossible to guide what you don’t understand. Not only that, but think of all the anxiety you can avoid by knowing how things work.

13. Embrace their world and enjoy the possibilities together. None of us want digital divides in our relationships with our kids. It’s up to us to join the fun and help them seize the potential.

Remember, technology is here to stay.  It is an integral part of our lives today and tomorrow.

Source: Common Sense Media (2009). (Common Sense Rules of the Road for Parents).

Kid-friendly Social Networking Sites:

Please note, the age limits listed below are based on the site’s limits and may not be appropriate for all children in these age ranges.  Do your homework and use discretion when allowing children to set up their own online social-networking profiles.

My Secret Circle

A secure social networking site for girls limited to real-life friends.  Ages 8 and up.

Yoursphere

A social networking site for kids and teens that promises to block adults.  Ages 9 and up.

FaceChipz

Kid version of adult social networking.  Ages 7 and up.

Think MTV

Safe, smart, socially conscious networking site.  Ages 14 and up.

Additional Resources

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Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Tim Fox, and the Legal Services Division function as the lawyers for the State of Montana. The attorneys in the Office have expertise in a wide range of legal topics and handle a broad range of legal cases involving the State of Montana and its people.

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Children’s Justice Bureau

The Children’s Justice Bureau is an agency-wide initiative at the Montana Department of Justice dedicated to IMPROVING how we respond to child victims, DEVELOPING state-of-the-art approaches by keeping up with the newest research and, most importantly, HELPING child victims recover and move on with their lives.

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Division of Criminal Investigation

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Montana Department of Justice is involved in many aspects of Montana law enforcement and is integral to the Department dciof Justice’s mission of promoting public safety.

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Forensic Science Division & State Crime Lab

The mission of the Montana Forensic Science Division is to use operationally efficient and financially responsible practices as the laboratory provides accurate, objective, and timely forensic analyses to the criminal justice community in order to maximize value to the citizens of Montana.

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Missing Persons Clearinghouse

The Missing Children Act of 1985 established a Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse within the Department of Justice. In March 2008, the department implemented a searchable online database that, for the first time, is updated in real time and includes any photos provided by law enforcement.

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Office of Victim Services

The goal of the Office of Victim Services is to provide tools and information to help crime victims recover from their experience and provide them with a range of services available. The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating for victims. To assist them as they go through the justice system, the Office of Victim Service is available to answer any questions they may have.

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Central Services Division

The Montana Department of Justice’s Central Services Division provides financial and human resources support for the department. We make sure that everything works for the people Working for Justice. If you’re interested in a rewarding career helping protect the rights and safety of all Montanans, we invite you to join our team of over 800 dedicated employees working across the state.

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Justice Information Technology Services Division

Our Justice Information Technology Services Division (JITSD) provides vital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure upon which Montanans and lojitsdcal and state law enforcement agencies rely for timely, accurate information. JITSD manages the IT systems, services, and interfaces to support nearly 800 DOJ employees, 325 statewide county motor vehicle system users, and over 3,000 Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) users across the state.

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Montana Highway Patrol

Montana is rich in natural beauty and history. From Glacier Park in the west to Makoshika Park in the east, the men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol are working hard to make your travels safe and enjoyable. The Highway Patrol’s core values are “Service, Integrity and Respect.” These values are reflected in our commitment to public safety through diligent and fair enforcement of our traffic codes.

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Montana Law Enforcement Academy

The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is the premier law enforcement and public safety educational and training institution for state, county, city and tribal officers throughout the state. The Academy offers entry-level programs referred to as Basic Programs and advanced training through an array of Professional Development Programs.

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Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.

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Gambling Control Division

Through the Gambling Control Division, the Department of Justice regulates all forms of gambling in Montana, except for the Montana Lottery and horse racing. The legislature has charged the division with maintaining a uniform regulatory climate that is fair and free of corrupt influences. The division is also responsible for collecting gambling revenue for state and local governments.

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Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.

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Natural Resource Damage Program

The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.

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Office of Consumer Protection

Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the consumer from unfair or deceptive business practices. Enforce statutes relating to telephone solicitation and telemarketing. Provide information to consumers about their basic rights under consumer laws. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.

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Human Trafficking

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.

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Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.

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Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.

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Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

Created by the Montana Department of Justice in 1989, the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is a valuable resource for Montanans to protect their families against sexual or violent offenders.

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Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

Drinking and driving has been a chronic – and deadly — problem on Montana’s roadways for decades. In 2008, Montana was ranked as the deadliest state in the nation when it came to per capita DUI-related traffic fatalities.

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Work for Justice

Everyday at The Montana Department of Justice, our employees are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and rights of the people of our great state. We’re passionate about what we do because it’s more than a job or a career. It’s about who we are as people. If this sounds like you, your unique experiences, knowledge, and values may be just what the Montana Department of Justice is looking for and needs. In return we can offer a culture that promotes fairness and growth opportunities.

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