MISSION VIEJO (CBSLA.com) — Federal and local law enforcement officials were expected Tuesday to announce the launch of a first-of-its-kind national cyber safety campaign.
KNX 1070’s Mike Landa reports Project iGuardian will use super hero-style characters and trading cards to give tips to both kids and parents on how to avoid falling prey to sexual predators online.
Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and officials with the Capistrano Unified School District were scheduled to be on hand at Newhart Middle School in Mission Viejo for the formal launch of Project iGuardian, which is being spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
In addition to making presentations to audiences ranging from grade school students to youths in their early teens, ICE officials are also warning parents to be aware of possible signs of “grooming”, a practice in which online predators target young children and lure them into dangerous or inappropriate behavior, including:
- receiving gifts through mail;
- making calls to unknown numbers;
- turning away from family and friends;
- spending lots of time online; and
- minimizing screen or turning off the monitor when you come into room.
John Sheehan of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said with the rise in social media, kids are frequently being tricked into taking naked pictures of themselves.
“It really only takes a momentary lapse of judgement to take a photograph like that,” Sheehan said. “They think they’re taking a photograph for someone they’re in love with.”
Last year alone, HSI investigators logged nearly a million hours working child sexual exploitation cases, opening more than 4,000 investigations, including a probe announced last week targeting a child exploitation scheme operating on the Darknet’s Onion Router that identified more than 250 minors, in the U.S. and around the globe, who had been sexually exploited, according to officials.
Click here for tips and more information on Project iGuardian.