$300,000 worth of federal funding in Kentucky is being spent on an interactive computer program designed to warn parents and children of the dangers of online predators.
The game, titled Missing, follows the adventures of a teen named Zachary Taylor who finds himself in an inappropriate online relationship with someone named Fantasma. Soon Zachary goes missing, and the children must study clues to help find him. According to Paul Hamann, chief information officer for the Jessamine County school district where the program will launch, the game will help students "see how easily they could get drawn into that".
The funding for the $300,000 project comes by way of an earmark secured by U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler as part of the 410 billion omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in March. Chandler defends his decision to procure other people's money to defend the children of Kentucky.
"Earmark is a bad word, you know," Chandler said. "But in this particular case, and I think in the way I try to handle it, we get money for very, very good projects. And this is a very, very good project. Any project that is going to protect our young people, in my view, can be easily defined as a good project."
It really is hard to argue with a man when he has countless stories of children being solicited and abducted via online games and chat rooms to back him up. I suppose I would have felt better had this been developed into a national program, rather than simply benefitting Chandler's 6th Congressional District.
$300,000 game to teach dangers of Internet predators [Kentucky.com]