Teens Are the Teachers in New Internet Safety Project

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Feb. 11, 2009 — Girl Scouts of the USA and Microsoft Corp. joined forces to create LMK (text speak for “let me know”) — an online safety resource where girls are the technology experts on subjects that are often best discussed at a teen-to-teen level, like cyberbullying, predators and social networking. This girl-led campaign allows girls to share their online concerns with peer “tech-perts” about the issues that affect them while raising awareness about how to help keep girls (ages 13–17) safe while surfing the Web. In addition, parents have access to a site specifically geared to their needs, equipping them with the tools necessary to understand and act on the rapidly changing world of online safety.

“Being online is a part of every teenage girl’s life,” said Shannon, a member of the LMK editorial team. “Now we have a chance to teach our parents a thing or two about the real issues we face every day.”

The campaign includes an interactive Web site for girls, as well as an e-newsletter and Web site for adults. Each month, the all-girl editorial board explores a different Internet safety topic online and then shares what it learned in the e-newsletter, which is distributed to adults the following month. The e-newsletter and adult site are designed to provide parents with timely guidance and also serve as a tool to help families have open and honest conversations about the dangers that lurk in cyberspace.

In addition, Parry Aftab, Internet security lawyer and founder of the world’s largest cybersafety charity, has created the training and will continue to guide the girls and parents through her Question & Answer column on the site and raise awareness about cybersafety. The girls’ Web site also features forums, articles, quizzes and polls. Both sites are open to everyone (Girl Scouts and non-Girl Scouts alike) as well as to any adult who wants to learn about Internet safety.

“This collaboration between Girl Scouts and Microsoft not only bridges the digital generation gap between girls and parents, but it also empowers girls to become leaders and advocates for the safe and responsible use of technology,” explained Laurel Richie, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Girl Scouts of the USA. “We are excited to work with Microsoft to create a campaign that encourages girls to speak and voice their concerns about Internet safety.”

Microsoft, which has developed family safety tools such as Windows Parental Controls and Windows Live Family Safety Settings, offers resources and provides online safety guidance in support of LMK. “Most teens understand the Internet and technology better than their parents,” said Erika Takeuchi, product manager for Windows Client Interactive and Digital Creative Development at Microsoft. “These tools will teach parents effective ways to help protect their families from risks such as file-sharing abuse and exposure to potential dangerous content.”

While the full scope of online threats, such as cyberbullying, are difficult to measure, it is known that nearly one in six U.S. children grades six to 10 (that’s 3.2 million students) are victims of online bullying each year, according to the National Council of Juvenile Court Judges. Bullying is not “just a phase” or behavior in which “kids will be kids.” The repercussions of cyberbullying can be so grave that at least 13 U.S. states have passed or are proposing laws to make it a crime.

With detailed advice and information about online safety issues written by teen girls, the collaboration between the Girl Scouts of the USA and Microsoft provides resources for both teens and parents.

LMK launches nationally today and will be utilized by all 109 local councils. In addition, the campaign will include direct collaboration with nine Girl Scout councils to increase awareness and engagement. These local councils are Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey (Paramus, N.J.), Girl Scouts of N.C. Coastal Pines (Raleigh, N.C.), Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland (Wichita, Kan.), Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council (Redlands, Calif.), Girl Scouts of Frontier Council (Las Vegas, Nev.), Girl Scouts, Hornets’ News Council (Charlotte, N.C.), Girl Scouts of Central Texas (Austin, Texas), Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains (Bedford, N.H.) and Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan (Detroit, Mich.)

More information is available at http://lmk.girlscouts.org (the site for girls) and http://letmeknow.girlscouts.org (the site for parents and adults).

About Girl Scouts

Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls with 3.4 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouts is the leading authority on girls’ healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girl Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect or donate to Girl Scouts, call (800) GSUSA 4 U (800-478-7248) or visit www.girlscouts.org.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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