WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Child Exploitation Investigations Unit (CEIU) is now offering virtual presentations for school systems and youth organizations nationwide through the Project iGuardian program. Through online seminars, parents, teachers and students will have the opportunity to learn more about the dangers of online environments, how to stay safe online and how to report abuse and suspicious activity – particularly while kids are using online learning tools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A laptop, a phone, or other internet-connected device could lead children into a world where they may be at risk. This is especially true with apps providing messaging, photo, or video sharing capabilities; in chat rooms; and on gaming platforms,” said Erin Burke, section chief for Cyber Crimes Center CEIU and Victim Identification Program. “It is imperative that parents and other trusted adults have conversations with children and provide oversight to ensure they aren’t exposed to environments where they could potentially be vulnerable to predators.”
Organizations interested in taking part in the virtual presentations can submit requests to iGuardian@ice.dhs.gov. Requests should include the following information:
Project iGuardian is an outreach effort to share information focused on keeping children and teens safe from online predators through education and awareness. The project helps children, teens, and parents be smarter about online safety and avert online sexual predators by providing safety tips a number to call, and a website with links to more information and resources.
In fiscal year 2019, the number of children HSI rescued and/or identified from instances of child exploitation grew to 1,069, compared to 859 the year prior. This fiscal year, as of March 2020, HSI has initiated more than 2,700 cases and have made more than 1,400 criminal arrests related to the exploitation of children. Since 2013, HSI has rescued and/or identified over 6,500 child victims, thanks in part to initiatives like Project iGuardian.
To report suspicious activity or instances of child sexual exploitation, contact your local law enforcement agency. Tips can be submitted online at ice.gov/tipline, by phone at 866-DHS-2-ICE or by contacting your local HSI office. Reports can also be filed with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST or online at cybertipline.org