Newsletter - September 2010


Stop Child Predators
Advisory Board

Mark Lunsford
Chairman

Joanna Acocella
Vice President of Federal Relations at Apollo Group, Inc.

Meryl Chertoff
Legislative relations professional, attorney and community volunteer

Viet Dinh
Georgetown University Professor of Law and former Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy at U.S. Department of Justice

Brian Jones
Senior Counsel at Dow Lohnes

Roderick R. Paige, Ed.D.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education
(2001-2005)

Executive Team

Cary Katz
Chairman

Stacie Rumenap
President

John Falb
Treasurer & Member of the Board

Amy Thienel
Communications Director

Table of Contents

President's Message
As students across the country head back to school, their shopping lists often includes laptops and cell phones. While the Internet has opened the door for a new way of communicating, that communication isn't always positive. Predators lurk on Craigslist, bullies go viral on Facebook, and cellphones are used to distribute photos that would make Hugh Hefner blush.
> Read More

Back-to-school shopping includes Internet safety, education tips
The back-to-school shopping list these days often includes laptops and cell phones. The instant access and convenience afforded by such electronic devices make them ideal for studying, socializing, and coordinating schedules.
> Read More

Dads biking cross-country to stop crimes against children
The most devastating thing a parent can face is having their child be a victim of a terrible crime. Sadly, Ed Smart, Ahmad Rivazfar and far too many other parents have faced just that. Smart's daughter, Elizabeth, was abducted from her own bedroom when she was just 14. She was held captive for nine months and raped repeatedly by her abductor. Rivazfar's two daughters, 6 and 8, were abducted, raped and had their throats slit. Only one survived.
> Read More

Chelsea's Law clears final legislative step, heads to Governor to become law
After six month of work, "Chelsea's Law," California Assembly Bill 1844, cleared its final legislative hurdle and passed the State Assembly with a unanimous vote. The measure awaits a signature from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who pledged his support for the bill.
> Read More

Rumenap: DOJ to Congress, New technologies lead to the spread of child pornography
I'm getting married this fall, which has put me in contact with old friends, soon-to-be family and anyone who has advice on planning a wedding. And thanks to the Internet, I'm able to easily keep everyone up-to-date by sharing photos and wedding plans through websites like theknot.com, email and IM. This sharing has provided many laughs at past fashion missteps, former dating dramas and lots of good times. Of course, the occasional photo I'd rather not be tagged in also pops up on Facebook, like that bikini shot taken on a vacation that a friend just had to share with me and 500 of her "closest" friends. And while those photos are harmless enough, there are, of course, very real problems created by the ease of recording and sharing photographs and videos much more sinister than my friends' plot to expose my sometimes unflattering moments.
> Read More




PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

As students across the country head back to school, their shopping lists often includes laptops and cell phones. While the Internet has opened the door for a new way of communicating, that communication isn't always positive. Predators lurk on Craigslist, bullies go viral on Facebook, and cellphones are used to distribute photos that would make Hugh Hefner blush.

So as parents buy these items for their students, it's important for them to review safety guidelines and institute precautions so that everyone can enjoy all the benefits of Internet connectivity and make the most of a great school year. Read on to hear from experts about how to talk to your child about the importance of Internet safety.

Also in this issue, we write about the quest of two dads who are biking cross-county in an effort to promote awareness about crimes against children and in support of tougher penalties for these crimes. We also talk about the progress of Chelsea's Law in California - the bill is now awaiting signature from Governor Schwarzenegger.

Don't forget to check out Stop Child Predators on Facebook and Twitter to find the most up-to-date content in your state.

We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter as much as we enjoy sharing the content with you. If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me at srumenap@stopchildpredators.org.

Together, we are confident that we will STOP CHILD PREDATORS.

Sincerely,


Stacie Rumenap

Back-to-school shopping includes Internet safety, education tips

The back-to-school shopping list these days often includes laptops and cell phones. The instant access and convenience afforded by such electronic devices make them ideal for studying, socializing, and coordinating schedules.

As parents buy these items for their students, it's important for them to review safety guidelines and institute precautions so that everyone can enjoy all the benefits of Internet connectivity and make the most of a great school year.

While the Internet has opened the door for a new way of communicating, that communication isn't always positive. Predators lurk on Craigslist, bullies go viral on Facebook, and cellphones are used to distribute photos that would make Hugh Hefner blush. A recent study reports that 25% of kids experience cyberbullying and 20% of teens experience sexting, which is the sending of sexually explicit photos via cell phones.

Experts who study these issues say modern incarnation of bullying and sexting can be more damaging to victims than traditional tactics like fist fights and classroom taunts.

Parents also need to be aware of what their children are doing in cyberspace. While 93 percent of parents said they knew what their children were doing online, 52 percent of children said they do not tell their parents what they do online, according to Bridget Roberts-Pittman, Indiana State University assistant professor of counseling.

"Parents have a right to check their child's phone and Internet use," she said, and suggested using software packages such as Spectorsoft or I Am Big Brother. "Parents need to talk to their children about cyberbullying and sexting. Children today are so saturated with technology that they might not even recognize the behavior as a serious problem."

The start of a new school year is a great time to have these conversations. Linda Criddle of the Safe Internet Alliance offers great pointers on using this time to review, reevaluate and reinforce your guidelines for an Internet safety check-up.

If you need help coming up with age-appropriate Internet rules for your children, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's NetSmartz is a good resource. It's a free online toolkit with safety tips geared toward a variety of age groups.

We owe it to our kids to teach them online safety, and it's just as important for parents to learn the risks of the Internet in order to help their families have a safe and secure online experience.



Dads biking cross-country to stop crimes against children

The most devastating thing a parent can face is having their child be a victim of a terrible crime. Sadly, Ed Smart, Ahmad Rivazfar and far too many other parents have faced just that. Smart's daughter, Elizabeth, was abducted from her own bedroom when she was just 14. She was held captive for nine months and raped repeatedly by her abductor. Rivazfar's two daughters, 6 and 8, were abducted, raped and had their throats slit. Only one survived.

Smart and Rivazfar made a commitment to prevent the same heinous crimes from happening to other children. As members of the Surviving Parents Coalition, they fight for legislation that promotes public awareness of child safety and improved policing of predatory crimes.

And this summer, they're taking their message to the streets, literally. Smart and Rivazfar, along with other members of the Surviving Parents Coalition, are biking cross-country to raise awareness for stricter penalties for child sex offenders and other crimes against children. The Ride for Their Lives, which kicked off August 21 in New York will continue until September 22 when riders reach Los Angeles, California. Bikers hope to raise $1 million to lobby Congress to pass legislation to prevent predatory crimes, including: 1) The Adam Walsh Act; 2) The collection of DNA on felony arrests; 3) the Protect Act of 2008.

The trip includes stops in cities along the way, where supporters can join in for portions of the trip. For those not inclined to ride but want to help out, Ride for Their Lives is looking for volunteers. You can watch all the action online as Ed Smart is wearing a GPS tracking device that will be showing his location in real-time.

Stop Child Predators is proud to assist the Surviving Parents Coalition in securing law enforcement, including speakers from the U.S. Marshals Service, at key stops along the ride.



Chelsea's Law clears final legislative step, heads to Governor to become law

After six month of work, "Chelsea's Law," California Assembly Bill 1844, cleared its final legislative hurdle and passed the State Assembly with a unanimous vote. The measure awaits a signature from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who pledged his support for the bill.

Chelsea's Law, named for 17-year-old Chelsea King who was raped and murdered in San Diego by a convicted sex offender, will toughen state sex offender laws. Authored by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher in partnership with the family of Chelsea King, the law will better protect California children from violent sexual predators by enacting:

  1. A true one strike, life penalty without the possibility of parole for the most dangerous sexual offenders
  2. Increased sentences for forcible sex crimes
  3. Increased parole terms for those who target children under the age of 14
  4. Restrictions on sex offenders' ability to enter parks
  5. A first-in-the-nation containment model and dynamic risk assessment structure
  6. A requirement that Megan's Law publicly list sex offenders' risk assessment scores
  7. A revision of the California mentally disordered offender laws to provide for continued detention of offenders where evaluation and assessment deem necessary

Chelsea's Law received wide bi-partisan support throughout California, including the support of Governor Schwarzenegger, California Attorney General Jerry Brown, and U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

The bill underwent months of revisions and sets the bar high for sex offender laws everywhere. In his presentation of Chelsea's Law before its final vote, Assemblyman Fletcher applauded the bipartisan efforts to make Chelsea's Law a reality.

The Governor will sign the measure into law within the next 30 days. Once signed, it will take effect immediately.


For more information concerning the initiatives in your state, or if you would like Stop Child Predators' assistance in drafting, testifying for, or supporting legislation in your state, please visit our website at http://www.stopchildpredators.org and/or call us at (202) 234-0090.