Game Recognizes Child Predators

Game Recognizes Child Predators

Joined by leading Members of Congress, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Foundation announced a major grant to Web Wise Kids to distribute a unique and highly effective Internet safety computer game to schools across the United States at a press conference held on Capitol Hill today. The computer game, called "Missing," has already led to the apprehension of three child predators and has been embraced by law enforcement as a valuable tool in the fight against online predators.

We need to help kids and their families to be prepared, said Rep. Ernest Istook. We don't want kids to avoid the Internet and the great resource it provides, but they should know in advance what they must avoid. It's like scouts preparing to go camping and hiking; they learn how to conduct themselves to have a good time and do it safely. Web Wise Kids offers the tools and resources that make it possible.

WWK is a non-profit group formed in 1998 after the founder's own sister was the victim of an online predator. Web Wise Kids distributes the Missing kit which was developed by Livewires Design.

Officer Kim Mercer of the San Francisco Police Department who has helped distribute the game in California and a father and daughter who used the game to identify an online predator were in attendance at the press conference. The father contacted Officer Mercer when his 15-year-old daughter was chatting on-line with a man, and invited him to spend a week in the family home. Mercer gave the family a Missing kit. Reluctantly, the girl agreed to play the game but soon recognized the warning signs in the game were happening to her. Using files from the girl's computer, police identified the man and discovered that the same man was a suspect in the rape of a thirteen-year-old girl. With the supporting evidence from the teen, the predator was sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Web Wise Kids also helps communities implement educational programs using the game. The Missing kit, which is now used in twenty-five states, includes a computer game based on the true story of a boy who was lured to San Diego by a predator. Children play the role of a police officer and must save the missing child. The kit also includes a video documentary and guide for parents and teachers. Earlier ESA Foundation grants have funded the launch of the game in twenty pilot projects in fifteen states.

Games can be powerful teaching tools and we are always on the lookout for projects that use games not just for entertainment but also to teach and educate, and to prepare kids to succeed in the real world game of life, said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the ESA, the association representing computer and video game publishers. Many parents aren't fully aware of the dangers their children face online. This game helps parents and kids recognize the warning signs that there may be a problem. As a result, we've seen children saved and online predators brought to justice.

The ESA Foundation's latest grant of USD 200,000, will support the existing statewide programs in California, Oregon and Massachusetts, expand programs in six additional states, and provide additional kits for pilot programs in new states throughout the country. It will also fund training and support for areas looking to bring Missing to their states. To date, past and current donations from the ESA Foundation and Congress have provided the program with more than USD 600,000 in funding.

Also participating in today's press conference were Congressman Bill Delahunt, and Congresswoman Darlene Hooley, who accepted kits on behalf of their states.

For more information on Web Wise Kids and the Missing kit, please visit or .