New Orleans’ Homeland Security office launches program to protect children on internet over summer | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

NEW ORLEANS — As the summer approaches, children will have a lot of unsupervised time on the internet that could lead to potentially dangerous situations like encountering online predators.

Homeland Security Investigations New Orleans is running an awareness campaign called Know2Protect to ensure parents know the risks children can face when using the internet unsupervised. The initiative is being put in place to curb the past decade’s exponential rise in online child sexual exploitation and abuse, Homeland Security said.

The program is designed to show parents things they can do to avoid become targets for online exploitation, including turning off chat and location features on all devices, as well as making profiles private.

“A predator will contact children and they will request that they send nude photos or videos. Once the child sends it, the predator will then say okay I have these images or videos of you. If you don’t do this this or this, I’m going to share it with your friends, your family, your school,” said Jessica Zuppardo, an agent with Homeland Security Investigations.

The most important step to ensure a child’s safety this summer is by educating them.

“Talk to them. Have an ongoing dialogue that is age-appropriate for them so that they are aware of the dangers out there and then what to do if something happens,” Zuppardo said.

Project iGuardian is another campaign Homeland Security is running where schools and community groups can request presentations on the subject of internet safety. More information is available here.

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