CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va., announced Tuesday that more than $425,000 in federal funds will come to West Virginia, including $275,000 to help fund programs to prevent sexual exploitation of children and $150,000 to help continue funding the state's Rape Prevention and Education program.
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Rockefeller has held several hearings about potential dangers to children who use the Internet, chat rooms and sites like Facebook.
Rockefeller also has held roundtables in West Virginia about the need to protect children against cyber-bullying, online predators and Internet harassment.
The $275,000 grant will help the West Virginia State Police upgrade their computer capabilities to better investigate and prosecute sexual exploitation.
"The Internet is a great resource for learning, but it can also put kids at risk," Rockefeller said. But "when kids use the Internet unsupervised, they too often become the target of bad intentions."
"This grant will help our West Virginia police departments and other state and local officials achieve their very important mission of keeping our kids safe online."
During a Senate hearing on April 29, Rockefeller said a recent study showed "children ages 2 through 11 make up 9.5 percent of online users. That's nearly 16 million children, and the number is rapidly growing."
"A decade ago, going online meant accessing the Internet on a computer in your home. Today, it also includes iPhones, portable games and interactive TVs. As powerful and exciting as these new developments are, a changing world brings new risks," Rockefeller said.
Manchin said, "We must do everything we can to protect [our children] from criminals and pedophiles who are exploiting children using the latest technology.
"When I was governor, I made sure that our law enforcement personnel had all the tools they needed to keep our children safe, and I am committed to doing as the same as senator."
In 1998, the U.S. Justice Department set up the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program to help state and local law enforcement agencies.