Miss Utah lobbies Congress for Internet safety bill

Published May 13, 2009 3:09 pm
SAFE Act » Barclay calls cyberspace 'a candy shop for predators.'
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Miss Utah Kayla Barclay brought her campaign to educate teens on the Internet and cell phones to Congress on Wednesday, lobbying on behalf of a bill that would offer grants for programs promoting cyber safety.

"Online is just a candy shop for predators, a candy shop for people who want to hurt children," Barclay said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Barclay joined Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and other Internet safety advocates to push for new legislation, called the School And Family Education about the Internet Act, of SAFE Act, which would dole out some $35 million in grants over several years toward helping children understand dangers lurking on the Internet.

Barclay, of Manti, said more outreach is needed to help kids know not to post personal information, to beware of strangers and to advise adults if there are problems.

"All of us need to realize this is an issue we need to address," Barclay said.

Menendez said there are too many sad tales about children texting nude pictures of themselves, harassing others or bullying their peers.

"We have to continue to reach out to these children who hurt others and themselves," Menendez said.

Parry Aftab, executive director of the group Wired Safety, said it will take a "cybervillage" to help curb these abuses of technology and the harm it does to the nation's children. And it needs to be done soon, she added.

"Kids are walking around with more technology in their pockets, their backpacks and their purses than big corporations had a few years ago," Aftab said.

tburr@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">tburr@sltrib.com

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