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PSAs Target Online Sexual Predators

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NEW YORK The Advertising Council, in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, this week launches a series of public service announcements designed to raise awareness about the prevalence of online sexual exploitation and to help teenage girls better protect themselves against online sexual predators.

Created pro bono by Merkley + Partners in New York, the PSAs are an extension of a national multimedia campaign intended to educate parents about what they could do to protect their children online. The new ads target the teens themselves.

TV, radio, magazine and Internet ads direct teens to www.cybertipline.com to get information about how to prevent, detect and report online sexual exploitation. The spots, which were also created in Spanish, show teen girls how easily a predator can manipulate their insecurities and end with the tagline, "Don't believe the type."

In the first six months of the online sexual exploitation campaign, the parent-targeted PSAs received more than $29 million in donated advertising time and space from the media, per the Ad Council. In addition, according to a recent Ad Council study, parents who saw the PSAs were significantly more likely to have talked to their children about the potential dangers of chatting with strangers online.

"Our goal is to reach teens before predators do," NCMEC president Ernie Allen said in a statement. "The Ad Council campaign has proven successful in reaching adults, and we hope that our message will carry over to teen girls to help them identify, prevent and report sexual exploitation they encounter while online."

—Brandweek staff report