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New program aims to help keep kids safe online

By Bill Raack, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – A new program to keep kids safe when they use the Internet was unveiled in St. Louis Thursday.

The privately-funded effort is called "I Know Better." Its goal is to increase awareness of the dangers of on-line predators.

In announcing the program, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway spoke directly to the teenagers in the audience: "The message is simple. Don't invite into your home anyone who you wouldn't talk to if you saw them in person.

"And believe me, these predators are just like a stranger at your front door, trying to force their way in. And the first little crack in the door is when you talk to strangers on line."

Lt. Joe Laramie, the Missouri director of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, says teenagers can be too reckless when they're on line. "The difference between a stranger on the Internet and a stranger driving down a street in your neighborhood is nothing," Laramie said Thursday. "We can't give away personal information to strangers on the Internet no more than we would give away personal information to someone who's driving down the street in front of our home."

Officials hope to get teens to pay attention to the campaign by using the Internet-friendly logo INOBTR and singer Nick Lachey as its spokesman.