Virtual Learning is Making Kids Easier Targets for Predators
During the pandemic panic rush to start the 2020-2021 school year, virtual learning really saved the day. To get it done was no easy task, either. Sure, a pretty hefty number of classes had a lot of resources (including some assignments) for students and parents online - the Coronavirus shutdown pushed online learning to the max. To do it, we had to make sure every student had a device and an internet connection.
In doing so, we also put a window and a way to communicate that child that has been used in the worst of ways by sexual predators. According to KTBS, these kinds of cases have increased by an astonishing 200% since March. In response, the Northwest Louisiana Human Trafficking Task Force has launched a new campaign to help kids safely learn at home without making themselves a bigger target for online creeps.
The agency has launched project R.I.S.K. (Reliable Internet Safety for Kids) to help combat the growth of this menace. The project's purpose is to equip citizens, local government officials, community organizations, school boards, churches, and other groups to with the information they need to watch out for these predators and strategies families can use to minimize the danger online.
According to Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parke:
"Always place your child's laptop, tablet, phone in a common area in the house. The predator cases develop when the child is usually messaging on an application with strangers when the guardian doesn't even know the child is online."
He also shared that communication between the child and the parent is essential to keeping that child safe online, and in the real world.
When you look at the sheer number of groups attached to this effort, it becomes clear how serious everyone is taking this threat. According to the report, the following agencies are participating in the project:
Bossier City Marshal’s Office, Bossier City Police Department, Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force (FBI-Shreveport Field Office), Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office, DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigations' Shreveport Field Office, Greenwood Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations' Shreveport Field Office, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Louisiana Alcohol Tobacco Commission, Louisiana State Police Office of Special Investigations, Barksdale Air Force Base, Sabine Parish Sherriff’s Office, Shreveport Police Department, United States Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, United States Department of State, United States Marshal Service Western District of Louisiana, Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office, United States Attorney’s Office (Western District of Louisiana), Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office, Bossier/Webster Parish District Attorney’s Office and Louisiana State Attorney’s General Office."