COLUMBUS, Ohio — In an effort to dramatically reduce the number of children falling prey to sexual predators online, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced Monday a partnership with Radio One to generate awareness about online safety.
The PSA campaign comes at the end of the school year as young people will have more free time for social networking and other online activities.
In the first eight months of fiscal year 2014, HSI identified 552 child sexual exploitation victims. Last year alone, special agents with HSI spent a million hours nationally investigating child-exploitation crimes, opening nearly 4,000 cases.
More than 50 child predators were arrested in metro-Columbus during the same period.
As part of the PSA campaign, Radio One will air on two Columbus-area stations a 30-second and 60-second PSA, which features HSI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis discussing some basic tips on how parents and young people can avoid online predators.
"We want to arm parents and young people with some very basic tips to keep them safe online," said Francis. "Following some of these fundamental practices can mean the difference between falling victim to an online predator and staying safe and avoiding any undue emotional or physical harm."
"Radio One is excited to educate its Columbus listeners about cyber safety," said Warren Stevens, on-air personality and program director for Radio One Columbus property Magic 106.3. "Teaming up with HSI will no doubt help minimize these crimes and teach parents and young people on how to avoid this growing problem in the Columbus community."
The PSA will air all summer on both Radio One stations in Central Ohio.
Radio One locally owns and operates Power 107.5 (WCKX-FM) and Magic 106.3 (WXMG-FM).
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.