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McCain Institute Expands Public Safety Campaign “R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t” to 70 Cities in Texas

6 Month Outdoor Advertising Campaign To Educate 100+ Million with Hundreds of Billboards

San Antonio, Texas (July 30, 2021)—The McCain Institute’s Combatting Human Trafficking program Senior Director, Kristen Abrams, delivered remarks on behalf of Board Chair Cindy McCain today at the expansion of the nationwide online child safety campaign, R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t. The out-of-home advertising portion of R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t will reach 100+ million Texans in over 70 cities across the state, raising awareness about online safety and child exploitation.

The R.E.A.L Friends Don’t campaign increases awareness and equips parents and caregivers with the tools and resources to help kids navigate their online experiences and protect them from potentially harmful relationships or grooming. Recognizing the disproportionate impact that exploitation and trafficking has on racial minorities, the McCain Institute has taken extra steps to ensure the campaign reaches those most at risk. “A one size fits all approach does not work for this type of issue, and we are committed to ensuring that all parents and caregivers—not only those with the ability to engage with our content online—have access to this important safety information,” said Kristen Abrams, senior director of the McCain Institute’s Combatting Human Trafficking program.

Through a partnership with the Office of the Governor, the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas and the McCain Institute, R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t launched print and digital billboards across the state to educate Texans about online safety and ensure parents and caregivers have the resources they need to start the conversation with their children about staying safe online, as well as where to turn if something does go wrong. The billboards, with messages in both Spanish and English, will be broadcast throughout Texas through the end of the year.

“As our children spend more time on the internet, the crime of online enticement continues to grow⁠—but we can help shine a light on this darkness and help parents protect their children and teens,” said First Lady Cecilia Abbott. “It begins with raising awareness and educating parents and caregivers on the danger signs, and then giving them the tools to fight back. That’s exactly what the R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t online safety campaign will do, and I am proud to partner with them on this important issue. I have no doubt that by joining together, we can help protect each and every child in our great state.”

In her remarks, Kristen Abrams thanked the Office of the Governor and the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas for their partnership and support of the R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t campaign.

The McCain Institute was joined for the billboard launch by Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott, Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas President Lee Vela, faith leaders from the Governor’s GRACE initiative, and members of the Alamo Area Anti Human Trafficking Coalition.

Public Safety Campaign

Public Safety Campaign

Public Safety Campaign

About the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University
Inspired by the character-driven leadership of Sen. John S. McCain and his family’s legacy of public service, the McCain Institute implements programs and initiatives to make a difference in people’s lives across a range of critical areas: leadership development, human rights, rule of law, national security, preventing targeted violence and combating human trafficking.

About Arizona State University
Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American research university, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

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Publish Date
July 30, 2021