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Internet crimes are being committed against some of our most vulnerable citizens. A survey by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children show one in seven children between the ages of 10 and 17 has received unwanted sexual solicitations online that attempted to contact the child in person, over the telephone or via mail. The survey also indicated that one in three children has experienced unwanted exposure to sexual material on the Internet.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller is working diligently to protect Indiana’s youth in response to the increasing number of teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims.
On July 1, 2008, a law took effect which prohibits a registered sex offender convicted of certain crimes involving children from knowingly using social networking web sites, instant messaging programs or chat room programs the offender knows include children. The Office of the Indiana Attorney General was an advocate of this new law and helped legislators craft the language for the state statute. First time violators of this law face a potential jail sentence of six months to three years. If the sex offender violates the law again, the charge would be elevated to a Class C felony, which carries a two to eight year sentence.
The Office of the Indiana Attorney General also worked with MySpace to boost online social networking safety. MySpace agreed to take significant steps to better protect children from online predators on its Web site. Under the agreement, MySpace, with support from the attorneys general, created and led an Internet Safety Technical Task Force to explore and develop age and identity verification tools for social networking Web sites. MySpace invited other social networking sites, age and identify verification experts, child protection groups and technology companies to participate.
In addition, the Office is collaborating with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to offer the NetSmartz Workshop (http://www.netsmartz.org/). This site contains a wealth of tools and resources to help educate youth, parents and educators about Internet safety.