To provide timely information about internet safety to parents and children, HSI has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's NetSmartz and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces to develop Project iGuardian. The project is an outreach effort to communicate the dangers of web-based environments and to offer tips on how to help kids stay safe online and how to report abuse and suspicious activity – particularly while kids are spending more time indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the iGuardian team helps children stay safe online by providing safety tips, a number to call and a website with links to more information and resources. HSI believes that providing children, teens, parents and teachers with information regarding the dangers of online environments and how to stay safe online can help prevent internet-based child exploitation.
During the pandemic, HSI expanded the iGuardian program to include virtual presentations for school systems and youth organizations nationwide. In June 2020, the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit based at HSI headquarters provided its first two virtual presentations, reaching several hundred participants. This led to multiple requests for additional virtual presentations to parents and kids that have been conducted by HSI field offices in their local communities across the country. For example, HSI San Juan, Puerto Rico, conducted a live-streamed internet safety presentation via Facebook Live where they reached more than 10,000 viewers. HSI Atlanta’s Victim Assistance Specialist conducted a three-part internet safety and social media outreach event that was streamed on several social media platforms with assistance from a local non-government organization partner, Street Grace. HSI international offices have taken steps to share information with U.S. families, international schools and foreign partners. For example, HSI Bangkok developed and delivered a shareable “Internet Safety Tips for Parents During COVID-19 Social Distancing” document in both English and Thai.