Predators and human traffickers can gain access to victims online because people are not always aware of how dangerous online environments can be or how to keep themselves safe. While the Internet is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, predators oftentimes take advantage of this and actively stalk online meeting places such as chat rooms and social media sites to lure their victims.
Below are several safety tips to keep in mind while surfing the web and using social media:
- Never share pictures of yourself online that you wouldn’t want to be seen by your family, teachers, or a total stranger.
- Set user profile to private so only real friends can get access. Know who you’re chatting with – a “friend” is not always a friend.
- Treat people online as you would in person: be polite!
- Don’t share personal information online such as your full name, school, address or phone number, or user passwords.
- Don’t meet up in person with anyone you met online.
- Report suspected abuse to law enforcement or a trusted adult.
Project iGuardian is an initiative by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations focused on keeping children and teens safe from online predators through education and awareness. For more resources such as additional safety tips and how to report suspected cybercrimes, visit https://www.ice.gov/topics/iGuardians.
For more information about online safety and how you can get help visit NetSmartz. You can report suspected child sex trafficking to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).