When parents insisted Facebook do better at banning pedophiles, Parry Aftab of Wyckoff leapt into the fray. If you’re in law enforcement, your materials about catching online predators were probably written by her. And as schools and states nationwide work to stop cyberbullying, Aftab is right there, assisting.
The FBI today saluted the North Jersey author, attorney and child advocate — considered one of the founders of U.S. cyber law — in a ceremony in Newark that included a presentation of the 2010 New Jersey FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA).
Aftab “continues to be an important ally in staying ahead of the ever-growing threat of internet crime,” said Michael B. Ward, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI‘s Newark Field Office. “Her work is vital to getting the message of internet safety out to individuals, companies, and the world.”
The government created the honor in 1990 to underscore the work of people and organizations who fight crime, terrorism, drugs, and violence in America.
If you don’t already know of Parry Aftab and her work, here’s only a sampling:
Aftab is the founder and executive director of WiredSafety.org, the world’s oldest
and largest cyber safety group. She wrote and promoted the first law enforcement
investigators’ guide for social networks, helped create MTV’s “A Thin Line” campaign to teach kids about cyber safety, and has Aftab has helped the FBI catch cyber predators since the beginning of its Innocent Images initiative in Newark in 1999.
Just three days after 9/11, Aftab was asked to the White House to address the growing fear that children of Middle Eastern descent would be targeted by hate groups. She organized the “Email to America” project, inspiring her clients and supporters in the industry to create a portal where children worldwide could voice their fears and concerns.
Aftab created a special initiative for the Girl Scouts, educating 2.5 million youngsters on online safety. She also drafted the Teenagers Program, in which teens train for 2 years to become experts in cyber crime and safety. Graduates of the program train
their peers — and have helped advise law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.
Aftab has created a Stop Cyber Bullying Toolkit with nearly $1 million worth of resources, guides, computer games, animations, videos and risk management pointers, as well as lesson plans, presentation materials and community activities for students, parents, and teachers. The Toolkit is free to schools, community organizations, and law enforcement agencies.
Her StopCyberbullying.org website is the most popular anti cyber bullying website in the world. She also authored the first Internet safety book for parents: A Parent’s Guide to Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace (1997).
Aftab was one of 24 experts and industry leaders appointed last year to the NTIA Online Safety and Technology Working Group (OSTWG) established by Congress. Around the same time, she joined Diane Sawyer in the first town meeting on morning TV, on the topic of sexting. She’s also quietly working with families of girls who killed themselves after images they sexted from their cellphones were spread around and used to harass them.
In 1999, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, recruited Aftab to lead its awareness campaign of online sexual exploitation of children. When the program was not funded as planned, she continued her work — gratis.
Aftab is married to Canadian child safety advocate, Allan McCullough, who runs the Child Safety Research and Innovation Center, a Canadian non-profit agency. They have two adult children, one in New Jersey and one in California.
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