Homeland Security Turns Its Sights to Child Exploitation

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has several critical functions which all serve to keep Americans safe. But while most people are familiar with the department’s anti-terrorism activities, DHS also has other roles – such as helping to stop child exploitation.

In a new program called iGuardian, the DHS is taking steps that it hopes will help make children and their parents more aware of crimes that may be committed by online predators. The program features a series of presentations to school children and teens, which are meant to raise awareness of potentially inappropriate or dangerous behavior that can occur on the internet.

The program, which features the slogan ‘Think before you click,’ is intended to cause children to think twice before engaging in potentially dangerous activities over the internet. It also serves to give parents clues as to the warning signs that children are acting inappropriately with relation to their internet usage.

The program discusses such actions as children hiding what they are doing online, and making calls to unknown numbers as potential danger signs. iGuardian also focuses on helping children avoid being the victim of predators by teaching them not to:

  • Talking to strangers
  • Take inappropriate video or pictures of themselves
  • Engage in inappropriate conversations

While it may seem that that this focus on stopping child victimization is a new concern for DHS, in actuality the department has been very aggressive in pursuing child predators. In fact, in 2013 investigators for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit worked over one million hours on cases involving child victimization, which resulted in over 4,000 cases being opened. One of those cases, which targeted the so-called Darknet Onion Router, was able to identify over 250 children worldwide who had been, or were being sexually exploited.