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Predators use gaming consoles to ‘get foot in the door’

Posted by Wendy Koch,

Sexual predators are using gaming consoles such as the Wii, PlayStation and Xbox to meet children online.

“Child predators are migrating from traditional methods to alternate media,” says Detective Lt. Thomas Kish of the Michigan State Police. “They are going to places where children are.”

Predators view games that allow kids to access the Internet and text message other players as a “foot in the door,” he says.

Parents may not realize that gaming consoles have become Internet devices or that savvy kids can bypass parental controls, says Marc Rogers, director of Purdue University’s Cyber Forensics Lab.

Police who have been doing stings in Internet chat rooms for years now are going undercover to catch predators playing interactive games, ranging from Grand Theft Auto to old-fashioned chess and checkers. They’re making arrests.

In Utah, a man was charged this year with sexual exploitation of a minor for enticing a 12-year-old boy he met through an online game into having sex, says Lt. Jessica Farnsworth, field commander of the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. She says predators meet kids on a game, “groom them and then try to move off the game.”

In December, Michigan prosecutors convicted Adam Glenn Schroeder of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and using a computer to commit a crime. He used a game, World of Warcraft, to lure a 12-year-old girl into having sex with him. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Police had found Schroeder on other games. “This guy had been doing it for a while,” Kish says.

In another case, Kish says, a 10-year-old boy playing the Halo Xbox game got a video message from a man that showed the adult engaged in a sex act.

Farnsworth says her office has seized many Xbox machines for investigation and has received training from the maker, Microsoft, on how to extract text messages and other information from them.

Microsoft trains police at national conferences, says Tim Cranton, associate general counsel for the company’s Worldwide Internet Safety Enforcement program

Cranton says the Xbox has password-protected “family settings” that allow parents to turn off Internet access or track content and contacts. PlayStation and Wii also have such controls.

Sandy Hook Commission Sends School Safety Report to Governor

Originally posted on Newton Patch

Gov. Dannel Malloy said Monday he had received an interim report from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, the group he convened in January to explore legislative responsed to the 12/14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“The interim report from the commission represents another step in identifying the policies and laws that will make our children and, indeed, our entire state safer,” said Malloy. “The commission’s recommendations on school safety are especially worthy of consideration this session as we negotiate the biennial budget, and I look forward to working with legislative leaders to implement such measures.”

Malloy has proposed a similar set of what he says are “strong, common-sense measures,” including universal background checks, requirements on storing guns, restrictions on magazine size and a ban on the “sale or purchase” of the kinds of weapons used in the Sandy Hook shooting, weapons capable of firing more than 10 rounds without reloading.

Malloy said he would not go as far as to suggest a ban on possession of such weapons, which members of the commission recommended in the report.

“The Commission takes seriously the rights afforded under the Second Amendmentof the United States Constitution, but balances those rights against the language of the Preambleto the Constitution, which includes assurances of ‘domestic tranquility’ and the obligation to ‘promote the general welfare,'” the report said in justifying the call, which would also ban armor-piercing bullets.

The commission acknowledged some sporting events use high-capacity magazines and weapons, but said “[t]he spirit of sportsmanshipcan be maintained with lower capacity magazines.”

“While I appreciate their hard work, I want to be very clear on one point – I do not support, and will not advocate for, the confiscation of firearms by law abiding citizens,” said Malloy in a statement last week.

In Monday’s statement, he added, “[T]heir views, along with the views of the staunchest defenders of the Second Amendment, have a place in this conversation.”

Chaired by Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, the commission has heard nearly 40 hours of testimony from experts in the fields of school safety and gun violence since its inception in January. In its next meeting, scheduled for Friday, it will hear from mental health experts.

New Jersey Bullying Report 2011-2012

Originally Posted in Huffington Post

New Jersey education officials now have some handle on just how much bullying happens in the state’s public schools. Data made public Tuesday show there were 12,024 instances of harassment, intimidation and bullying reported in the 2011-12 school year – the first year the state’s tough new anti-bullying law was in effect.

New Jersey used a new definition of the behaviors, so there are no previous data for comparison. The numbers of incidents reported Tuesday vary widely by district and may reflect how diligent each school is at reporting, rather than how much bullying there is.

Bullying in school, once written off as just something kids have to deal with, has evolved into a serious issue. New Jersey was among a wave of states that passed anti-bullying laws a decade ago after the school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.

In 2012, it’s far more widely seen as a real problem. On Tuesday, a television anchorwoman in La Crosse, Wis., went on air with a four-minute segment criticizing a man who emailed her about her weight. Jennifer Livingston called the man a bully and told young viewers not to let people like him affect them.

New Jersey’s law got an overhaul, which advocates said made it the nation’s toughest, in a law passed in 2010 and signed by Gov. Chris Christie in 2011. Though the bill was already in the works, attention given to the 2010 suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, whose freshman-year roommate used a webcam to watch him kissing another man, resulted in quick passage of the state’s new law.

Now, schools are required to have anti-bullying programs and coordinators while those measures previously had been merely recommended.

And schools are required to report instances of bullying to the state.

In the state’s report tabulating those reports for the first time, Woodbridge, a district with more than 13,000 students, had the most reported incidents, with 177. Newark, the state’s largest school district with more than 39,000 pupils last year, had 105 reported incidents.

In Camden’s school district, there were 35 reported incidents. But at D.U.E. Season, a small charter school in Camden – and not considered part of the school district – there were 16.

Some mid-size districts reported no bullying incidents.

The state also says that there were fewer assaults, fights, criminal threats, robbery, extortion and vandalism last year, compared with the previous school year.

While relatively small numbers, there were more cases of students caught with guns and drugs at school.