Keeping Kids Safe Online: FBI Program Offered in Schools

Recent studies show that one in seven youngsters has experienced unwanted sexual solicitations online. One in three has been exposed to unwanted sexual material online. One in 11 has been harassed or bullied online.

And as we all know, these are only some of the dangers that our kids face while surfing the Internet. How can we simultaneously protect them from these threats and enable them to take advantage of the positive things the web has to offer?

In addition to investigating online crimes targeting children, the FBI works to educate kids and their parents about the Internet, sometimes sending cyber agents to visit schools as well as posting useful resources on our public website. We also offer our Safe Online Surfing program to schools to help students understand how to recognize, report, and avoid online dangers.

How it all started. The Safe Online Surfing (SOS) program began in our Miami office six years ago, when Special Agent Jim Lewis from one of our cyber squads—who saw first-hand how easily kids could be victimized online—approached a co-worker, Community Outreach Specialist Jeff Green, about his desire to share information about Internet safety with school students. 

FBI Miami turned to nearby Nova Southeastern University for assistance with creating an online Internet safety program that that also tested students on what they learned. About 400 South Florida students took part initially, and according to Green, feedback from students and teachers was positive.

Said Green, “Kids are surfing the Internet anyway, so we were just using a vehicle they were comfortable with.”  

Over the years, other FBI field offices began offering the SOS program with the help of their community outreach specialists. By October 2010, our Cyber Division at FBI Headquarters—which manages our Innocent Images National Initiative, focused on online child predators—took the SOS program under its wing and made it a national one. Today, more than 90,000 children in 41 states have completed it.

How it works. At each grade level, third through eighth, students begin by taking pre-quizzes to test their overall knowledge. Then, a scavenger hunt takes them to pre-screened websites where they get Internet safety and cyber citizenship information. And finally, they take timed post-quizzes to demonstrate what they’ve learned. The program also promotes a fun competition between schools: every month—from September through May—schools with the highest scoring students in the nation are awarded the FBI-SOS Trophy.

Topics covered in the program run the cyber gamut: depending on the age of the students, they might learn about password security, cyberbullying, virus protection, copyright issues, online predators, e-mail, chat rooms, social networking sites, when to talk to parents or teachers about a threat, and appropriate uses of cell phones and gaming devices.

Of the SOS program, Cyber Division Assistant Director Gordon Snow said, “The Internet is a powerful resource for our youth, but it also presents opportunities for those who would attempt to do them harm…the Safe Online Surfing program is designed to teach young people what they need to know to avoid falling victim to individuals who want to take advantage of their youth and innocence.”

Schools interested in signing up for the Safe Online Surfing program should contact the community outreach specialist in their local FBI office.

Admitted sex-trafficker sentenced to life

Source URL:
By David Hunt

The teenage girl was held in a seedy Jacksonville motel room. Her captor stashed her clothes and kept her naked so she’d be less inclined to run.
He menaced her with a replica pistol, threatened to slice off her fingers and fed her crack-cocaine. He set her up with men who paid $20 for 15 minutes of sex with her.
He kept the money and told her he had killed someone before and would have no problem doing it again.
For all of Ian Sean Gordon’s hard-luck experiences — he was chronically unemployed, collecting disability, nursing a drug problem and unfit to care for his two children or pay child support — U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard said she could not look past what he did to the young girl who sat in her courtroom, crying at times, as the judge sentenced Gordon to life.
Gordon, 29, was charged with sex trafficking in May after the 15-year-old girl managed to escape him and call her parents. By that time, authorities estimate the girl was forced to service roughly 50 prostitution customers over the course of several weeks.
Gordon didn’t act alone. Melvin Eugene Friedman, 45, also was identified as a principal suspect in the case. Authorities said the girl was in drug treatment but ran away from the program and met up with Friedman at his home in Arlington.
Friedman, who is still awaiting trial, brought the girl to Gordon at a Philips Highway motel where he had been staying, authorities said.
Gordon’s lawyer, Paul Shorstein, tried to deflect some of the blame from Gordon because of the other man’s involvement and the girl’s already-existent drug habit.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mac Heavener said Gordon was “the worst of the worst” among the men arrested. Some were in the case because they’d paid for sex, but Gordon was arrested because he’d brutalized the teenager and made her into a commodity.
Heavener said Gordon even kept a picture of the teen on his cell phone, naked from the neck down, to show to potential customers.
“He’d sell 15 minutes of her time — pieces of her innocence and future — for $20 a pop,” Heavener said. “It was violent, brutal, cruel and unusual.”
The girl read a poem to the court that she wrote about the experience, saying her “body was infested with another man’s sin” and that she became “walking contraband” while under Gordon’s control. The Times-Union does not identify victims in sex crimes cases.
Shorstein stressed that Gordon was cooperative. He pleaded guilty in August so not to waste the court’s time with trial and, even without a search warrant, he’d handed his cell phone over to the authorities to show that he kept a naked picture of the girl.
Gordon apologized to the girl before he was sentenced.
The victim’s mother described her as an easy-going, fun-loving child.
“This man robbed us of our little girl,” she said.
Howard said in her four years on the federal bench, Gordon is the first person she’d sentenced to life.
“How anyone can think causing that sort of destruction to another individual for $20 this court simply cannot conceive,” Howard said., (904) 359-4025

12 Days of Freedom!

As you may know, the month of January is now Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. To help commemorate this day, the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking is Kicking of the 12 Days of Freedom! For the next 12 Days, follow the task suggested by FCAHT and help spread awareness on the issue of human trafficking. It’s just that simple. Our hope is that we will all be able to start a chain reaction and hopefully reach people who have no idea what human trafficking is.

12 days of Freedom


  1. Let’s start a chain reaction! Tell one person about the issue of human trafficking and how it affects us in the U.S. Encourage that one person to tell another person about human trafficking. Encourage that person to tell someone else. Let’s try to educate as many people on this global issue as possible!
  2. Change your profile picture on your Facebook or Myspace page to this icon. (Please visit our facebook page for picture.
  3. Attend an anti-trafficking awareness event. Learn more about the issue of human trafficking. Encourage others to attend as well.
  4. Encourage a friend to buy a Fair Trade Product. Please visit for a list of Fair Trade Products.
  5. Get involved! Volunteer with a local anti-trafficking organization.
  6. Write a blog or letter to the editor regarding the issue of human trafficking. Education is the key to fighting human trafficking!
  7. Wear Green as a symbol of hope! Encourage others to do the same!
  8. Encourage your local library to carry more books on the issue of human trafficking.
  9. Go to Visit the Human Trafficking section and sign one of the various petitions on the issue of human trafficking
  10. Call or write your state representative and let them know that you support the issue of human trafficking and want to see more laws passed that will better help victims of human trafficking.  
  11. Donate $5 to an anti trafficking organization. Encourage your friends to donate to your favorite organization as well
  12. Shine a light on Human Trafficking awareness! Drive with your headlights on, leave your front porch light on and light a candle! Let’s show our community that we are modern-day abolitionists!