U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman and Homeland Security Investigations remind parents to be vigilant

U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman and Homeland Security Investigations remind parents to be vigilant of online activity during National Child Abuse Prevention Month

(STL.News) – April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio and Vance Callender, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Detroit, are reminding parents to be vigilant of their children’s online activities.

“The work our office and partners do to protect children and prevent abuse never stops, even during a national emergency,” said U.S. Attorney Herdman.  “We are all committed to finding and prosecuting anyone who would exploit or endanger the children in our community.  Parents can help us in this fight by taking an active role in knowing who their children talk to and what they do online.”

“Child predators continue to target young people even during this public health crisis,” said Special Agent in Charge Vance Callender. “We want everyone to know that while some aspects of regular life have been temporarily paused, HSI is designed to easily adapt to ensure its aggressive ability to protect children.”

“Ongoing investigations against child predators have not slowed down in the slightest,” said Ben Shaw, HSI Cleveland special agent. “Last week HSI arrested Matthew Barlow, a known sex offender, for possession and receipt of numerous images of child pornography. As the arrest of Mr. Barlow demonstrates, HSI investigations continue unaffected through this national crisis.”

U.S. Attorney Herdman and HSI offered the following tips to help protect your children online.

Review and approve games and apps before they are downloaded
Make sure privacy settings are set to the strictest level possible for online gaming systems and electronic devices
Monitor your children’s use of the internet; keep electronic devices in an open, common room of the house
Check your children’s profiles and what they post online
Explain to your children that images posted online will be permanently on the internet
Make sure children know that anyone who asks a child to engage in sexually explicit activity online should be reported to a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult, as well as law enforcement

To report suspicious activity or instances of child sexual exploitation, contact your local law enforcement agency.  Tips can be submitted online at www.ice.gov/tipline, by phone at 866-DHS-2-ICE or by contacting your local HSI office.  Reports can also be filed with NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST or online at www.cybertipline.org.

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