BUFFALO, N.Y. — Last year, special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) spent a million hours investigating child-exploitation crimes, opening nearly 4,000 cases.
In an effort to dramatically reduce the number of children falling prey to sexual predators online, HSI announced Monday a partnership with Cumulus Radio Buffalo to generate awareness about online safety.
The partnership follows the recent launch of HSI's Project iGuardian, a proactive outreach campaign aimed at educating the public about cyber safety. Project iGuardian is viewed as a vital next step in HSI's ongoing effort to combat online child sexual predation.
As part of the effort, Cumulus will air on their four western New York stations a 60-second PSA, which features HSI Buffalo Special Agent in Charge James Spero discussing some basic tips on how parents and young people can avoid online predators.
"We're extremely excited to announce this partnership with Cumulus," said Spero. "We know we cannot arrest our way out of the problem of child exploitation. We have to engage young people and their parents in the effort against online predators. By partnering with Cumulus, we have an opportunity to reach a much broader audience with our message."
The PSA will begin airing April 23 and run through June 30 on all four of Cumulus stations in western New York.
Cumulus Radio Buffalo locally owns and operates 97 Rock (WGRF), 1033 The Edge (WEDG), Classic Hits 104.1 (WHTT), and Sports Radio 1270 The Fan (WHLD).
"With the ongoing rapid growth of technology it is imperative for our local community to be vigilant about the potential dangers of the internet. Online safety needs to be supported from business professionals, community leaders, schools and western New York households in order to educate and protect our children," said Vice President Steve Bearance, Market Manager for Cumulus Radio Buffalo.
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.
Organizations and schools interested in requesting a Project iGuardian presentation can do so using a link on ICE's website. At that link, users will also find general cyber safety tips for kids, parents and educators. Those seeking further guidance can use the link on ICE's website to access the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's NetSmartz Workshop, which features more detailed information on numerous topics related to online safety.