Loveland Middle School hosts Cincinnati’s first iGuardian web safety presentation
With the summer vacation just weeks away, special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) presented Loveland Middle School students Monday, May 12, with a cyber-safety presentation. The presentation is the first by HSI in the Cincinnati area.
Determined to curb the escalating number of children falling prey to sexual predators online, HSI in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), recently announced the national launch of Project iGuardian, a first-of-its-kind national cyber safety campaign. As part of iGuardian, HSI special agents are visiting schools and youth groups across the country to give parents and children hands-on tips on how to avoid falling victim to online sexual predators.
HSI special agents gave the presentation to approximately 60 middle school students at Loveland Middle School.
"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 Detroit Special Agent in Charge Marlon Miller, whose office covers Michigan and Ohio. "Project iGuardian presentations exemplify how law enforcement, schools and parents can work together to improve online safety and prevent sexual predation of our children."
“The safety of our students is top priority for the Loveland City School District, and awareness is integral to keeping students out of danger,” said Loveland Superintendent Chad Hilliker. “We sincerely appreciate the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security; it was an honor and privilege to be the first Cincinnati school district to host Project iGuardian, and we look forward to a continued partnership.”
The iGuardian presentation, for students and parents, focused on good decision making and the psychological aspects of the dangers of online encounters. The presentation also fosters a discussion between students and parents.
Project iGuardian is a vital next step in HSI's ongoing effort to combat online child sexual predation. Last year alone, HSI special agents logged nearly a million hours working child sexual exploitation cases, opening more than 4,000 investigations. In March, ICE announced a probe 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. As part of the scheme, the 14 defendants allegedly duped and enticed the juvenile victims into producing sexually explicit material of themselves.
As part of Project iGuardian, HSI special agents together with their law enforcement partners, will visit schools and youth groups across the country to provide children and parents with hands-on tips on how to avoid falling victim to online sexual predators. Using super hero-style characters and trading cards developed expressly for the initiative, the law enforcement personnel will remind young computer users to "think before you click." The presentations are age-appropriate, adapted for audiences ranging from grade school students to youths in their early teens.
Photo caption: Loveland Middle School Principal Chris Burke (right) introduces Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents Mark Salloum (left) and Jason Kearns (center) to a class of seventh grade students.