DOJ takes crime-fighting message online to kids

With the increase in pornography-filled World Wide Web pages and other sites that may be a hazard for young surfers, the Justice Department last month unveiled its effort to keep children safe and on the right track.

Attorney General Janet Reno unveiled the DOJ Kids and Youth Page, a site devoted exclusively to teaching children about crime prevention and the work of DOJ. The agency developed the site in response to President Clinton's 1997 directive that called on all federal departments to expand their use of the Internet and the Web as educational tools.

The site provides a nice mix of law enforcement intrigue and excitement intertwined with practical tips on how to stay away from a life of crime. For example, the kids' page (www.usdoj.gov/kidspage) provides the obligatory FBI's 10 Most Wanted List and a teaching section for older children about crime-detection techniques, such as DNA testing, which the FBI uses. The site, which uses cartoon drawings and eye-catching graphics developed with the young user in mind, also includes practical crime-prevention advice for children, parents and teachers.

A good place to start, especially for new Web users, is the "Internet Do's and Don'ts" section, which provides a list of healthy Internet uses and outlines potential dangers.

The DOJ site advises young users to turn to the Internet for help with homework, to publish their stories or art and to take virtual visits to museums. Each tip provides links to Web sites.

As for Internet hazards, the page discourages potentially dangerous Internet-related scenarios, such as releasing a parent's credit card information or arranging to meet a "cyberpal" in person without informing a parent.

After perusing the section outlining the safe use of the Internet, point your browser to "Get Involved in Crime Prevention" to check out this carefully crafted section that will have your youngster eager to shape up any bad habits, all in the name of fighting crime. This section advises children to become involved with after-school arts programs instead of hanging out on the streets, to attend peer mediation groups instead of fighting and to stay in school.

Other interesting sections provide information on drug prevention, the history of U.S. rights and details about how criminal cases are investigated and prosecuted.

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