Led by three University of Utah departments, a coalition of non-profit organizations will produce "Empowering Parents," a statewide multimedia educational program to foster safety for teenagers using the Internet.
The project - funded by a $140,000 grant from the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice - will include a town hall meeting televised on KUED Channel 7, a website, information packet, newspaper advertisement, posters, a toll-free information line, classes and educational conferences and materials.
The year-long educational program, which started Sept. 1, will target Utah teenagers, parents, teachers and community members.
"The project will increase public knowledge about Internet vulnerabilities and provide ways to safeguard youth," explained Laura Hunter, project manager and director of instructional services for the Utah Education Network. "The effort combines strengths of broadcasting, technology in education and outcome-based community outreach."
The state grant was awarded to the UEN, a consortium of university, colleges, public schools, libraries, state government and business operated by the U of U.
UEN's high-speed data network connects Utah colleges and universities as well as the state's school districts and libraries.
The project will involve the UEN, the U of U College of Education, KUED Channel 7 as the state office of education, the Utah Attorney General's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and NetSmartz Workshop, an organization providing interactive online activities to promote Internet safety for children and teenagers.
The educational project, the effort will kick off publicly in February 2007 with the KUED production of an hour-long, statewide, televised town hall meeting designed to inform parents and teens about issues of Internet safety.
The exact time and date will be announced later, but the meeting will air on KUED and be repeated twice on UEN TV.
The show then will be cut into segments and distributed on 1,000 DVDs along with printed materials to schools, parents and interested parties.
"Since Utah ranks high in home use of the Internet and school age children per household, Internet safety is a critical issue here," said Larry Smith, KUED manager. "KUED has a successful track record of building public awareness and encouraging dialogue to address key social issues, like teen suicide, substance abuse and domestic violence. "
"By adding outreach and educational follow-up courses to the cornerstone town hall broadcast, we believe the Internet safety project will provide a valuable public service," added the KUED manager.
The project will follow up with school districts, parental groups and community leaders.
"Our office will contribute personnel expertise, particularly in content and instructional design," said Clifford Drew, associate college of education dean. "We will develop mini-courses for parents attempting to engage their youngsters in conversations about electronic predation."
The courses will be designed to address the basics about the Internet and electronic communications like text messaging along with the avoidance of Internet predators, according to the statewide educational campaign organizers.
The outreach effort also will include distribution of information to school districts; presentations for faculty members, educational conferences and parent groups; and the mailing by UEN of at least 3,000 information packets to parents.