Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has launched a national campaign to help protect kids from online sexual predators. The cyber safety effort is the first of its kind and aims at teaching young people to think before you click.
Agents say the online sexual exploitation of children has reached epidemic proportions. Just last week, ICE announced a probe targeting a child exploitation scheme operating that identified more than 250 minors, allegedly enticed into producing sexually explicit material of themselves.
As part of Project iGuardian, special agents together with local law enforcement are crisscrossing the country to arm parents with the tools they need so their kids aren’t duped.
This is video of the first presentation out in California. It’s designed for grade schoolers on up to tweens and teens. Using specially designed super hero-style trading cards, law enforcement personnel hit on a number of red flags and DON’TS.
Below are some great tips to keep in mind while surfing the Web:
- Never share pictures of yourself online that you wouldn’t want to be seen by your family, teachers or a total stranger.
- Know who you’re chatting with – a “friend” is not always a friend.
- Don’t share personal information online like your full name, school, address or phone number, or user passwords.
- Don’t meet up in person with anyone you met online.
- Report suspected abuse to law enforcement or a trusted adult.
Tweens and Teens
- Think before you click
- Don’t meet in person with someone you met online that you do not know
- Treat people online as you would in person: be polite!
- Don’t post inappropriate pictures or personal information online
Parents and Educators
Signs of grooming:
- Receiving gifts through mail
- Making calls to unknown numbers
- Turning away from family and friends
- Spending lots of time online
- Minimizing screen or turning off the monitor when you come into room
“I have no frame of reference what a kid goes through with a smartphone because it wasn’t around when I was a kid and there are so many new things that it’s hard to keep track of it all. And they go through all of it with such detail it’s invaluable,” explained Meredith Drews, PTA President of Wood Canyon Elementary School.
Experts say raising awareness about the risks that lurk in cyberspace is key to helping keep kids safe.
“Educating parents and children about the dangers that exist online is one of the most important actions HSI can take to help protect everyone from online sexual predators,” said HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. “Project iGuardian presentations exemplify how law enforcement, schools and parents can work together to improve online safety and prevent sexual predation of our children.”
Parmer oversees a five-state Area of Operations to include Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Organizations and schools interested in requesting a Project iGuardian presentation can do so using a link on ICE’s website. At that link, users will also find general cyber safety tips for kids, parents and educators. Those seeking further guidance can use the link on ICE’s website to access NCMEC’s NetSmartz Workshop, which features more detailed information on numerous topics related to online safety.