Jan 18, 2022

1 in 7 youth are sexually solicited online

Published Nov 14, 2006, 12:00pm

U.S. Postal Inspection Service And The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children Join Together To Launch 2 Smrt 4u Internet Safety Campaign

Teen actress Hayden Panettiere and TEEN VOGUE It Girls(TM) Speak Out About Internet Safety and Encourage Teens to Wear 2 SMRT 4U Ring

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service(R) and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children(R) (NCMEC) today announced the launch of the 2 SMRT 4U(TM) campaign, an effort to encourage teens to practice safe, smart habits when posting information about themselves on social networking Web sites and blogs. TEEN VOGUE, the Conde Nast publication with a readership audience of 4.5 million young women, will play an integral role in the campaign by disseminating information to readers and creating awareness through a custom-created print advertising campaign and dedicated Web site, along with visibility at special events. The program is in support of the U.S. Attorney General's initiative, Project Safe Childhood.

Seventeen year-old actress Hayden Panettiere, star of NBC's "Heroes," serves as the campaign's spokesperson. She is among the first to wear the 2 SMRT 4U ring, demonstrating that she thinks before posting personal information on the Internet.

"As the popularity and usage of online social networking sites continue to flourish, it is essential that we empower youth to be cautious, aware and intelligent about the information they post," said Lee Heath, Chief Postal Inspector. "The 2 SMRT 4U campaign, and its tagline, 'Type Smart. Post Wisely,' is a Postal Inspection Service-led effort designed to reinforce the U.S. Attorney General's Project Safe Childhood initiative to promote Internet safety. We hope it will help remind teens of the importance of navigating smartly and thinking before posting personal information online."

A recent study conducted by University of New Hampshire researchers for NCMEC found that approximately 1 in 7 youth are sexually solicited online, with the majority of sexual solicitations (70%) targeted toward girls.

"By visiting the 2 SMRT 4U Web site, we're putting tools into the hands of teen girls to be safer about how they navigate online social networking sites and blogs," said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of NCMEC. "We know that online communities serve as a fun gathering place for young people to get to know one another virtually; but we want for teens to be smarter, so they don't engage in behavior that could put themselves or their friends at risk for online victimization."

To further elevate awareness of safer online practices, campaign promotional partner TEEN VOGUE highlighted 2 SMRT 4U at its "Fashion University" event, which took place Oct. 27-29, 2006, in New York City. 2 SMRT 4U rings were made available for the first time and approximately 500 rings were distributed to teens participating in a weekend-long seminar where fashion industry experts led courses on fashion merchandising, design and marketing. The next issue of TEEN VOGUE, on stands Nov. 21, will include a four-page promotional section featuring 2 SMRT 4U tips and resources for safer posting of personal information online.

"This is just the beginning of TEEN VOGUE's participation in the 2 SMRT 4U campaign," said Jane Grenier, Associate Publisher, Marketing, of the magazine. "TEEN VOGUE will continue to cover the topic of online predators using means that inform and empower youth to make smart decisions when interacting on the Web."

The campaign's Web site, 2SMRT4U.com, includes tips, information, links to additional resources and sites where incidences of online enticement can be reported. It will also feature real-life stories adapted from NCMEC cases, as well as video vignettes from TEEN VOGUE It Girls living in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Birmingham, Ala. The It Girls are members of an online reader panel that provides an exclusive window on the teen-girl world through the point of view of some of TEEN VOGUE's most responsive readers. Currently numbering more than 93,000, the panel has achieved steady growth since launch.

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