Increasing Internet Child Safety

Through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, NIJ has made available a new final technical report: "Evaluation of Internet Child Safety Materials Used by ICAC Task Forces in School and Community Settings", by Lisa M. Jones, Ph.D., Kimberly J. Mitchell, Ph.D., and Wendy A. Walsh, Ph.D. of the Crimes Against Children Research Center.

From the Authors' Abstract:

This project involves content and process evaluations of current internet safety education (ISE) program materials and their use by law enforcement presenters and schools. Despite a proliferation of internet safety programs over the last decade, there is little information that can guide law enforcement, policy makers or the public in determining which materials or delivery methods are most likely to increase children’s online safety.

ISE content and process evaluation results indicated that the educational approach and messages of current ISE fail to incorporate critical elements of effective prevention education, including: 1) research-based messages; 2) skill-based learning objectives; 3) opportunities for youth to practice new skills; and 4) sufficient time for learning. Our analyses indicate that the ISE field has been slow to include research-based information on internet predators and online harassment and there is no research to support the assumption that many of the popular educational slogans/messages around privacy and digital reputation concerns (e.g., “Think Before You Click”) will lead to improved youth online behavior.

The failure to define research-supported program logic means that most ISE is a highly speculative and experimental undertaking, whose success cannot be assumed. Recommendations are made for re-conceptualizing ISE and developing a more effective approach to helping protect youth.

Download the Executive Summary (16 pages) here.

Download the Final Report (114 pages) here.

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