NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Schools are closed and kids are home, so they might be spending more time on the internet.
And unfortunately, child predators may be too.
That’s why ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations is teaming up with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s NetSmartz and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces for an online project: iGuardians.
“It’s a great resource that talks about internet safety and talks about tips and how to handle certain online applications,” said Jim Stitzel, who is the assistant special in agent in charge of HSI Norfolk.
Stitzel says HSI investigates 400 federal criminal violations including child explotation.
“This is really important to us as an agency,” Stitzel said about cracking down on the crime.
So, it’s important to know what to look for. iGuardians has a wealth of resources including tips, videos, and links.
Stitzel says parents should be aware of the signs that their kids may be getting attention online.
“I think it’s important to have the convo with their children about internet safety. There are things they should also be looking for. Look to see if your child is turning away from family and friends. Are they taking steps to conceal their online activity? Do they have friends online they’ve never met?” he said.
He also recommends that kids only use their devices in common areas and parents should be proactive about what’s going on.
“Know who you’re talking to. Take that extra step. Don’t give out too much personal information. Try to stay away from environments where you’re meeting people on the internet. Stay within your group. There’s a lot of great apps out there where you can be face-to-face with your family and friends. I would stick to who you know and environments like that. If there’s someone out there that seems too good to be true, they probably are,” Stitzel said.
For HSI to stop predators, they need to be able to investigate them. The public can help them by coming forward.
If your child has come in contact with a predator, please submit tips to ice.gov/tipline.
To check out iGuardians, click here.
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