- Friday, 09 October 2020
- Published Date
- Written by Villalba Online
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The use of Internet increased since the COVID-19 quarantine, with rising numbers of students and adults working online.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Liberty Puerto Rico is reinforcing its partnership with the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Child Exploitation Investigative Unit to raise awareness of the need for cybersecurity education during the COVID-19 pandemic due to higher risks of solicitation and cyberbullying through social media.
To achieve this goal, Liberty Puerto Rico will continue to feature a series of videos it produced in partnership with ICE’s Child Exploitation Investigative Unit. The videos delve into the risks of cyberbullying and exploitation, which children and preteens are exposed to when navigating the Internet without supervision, and how they can protect themselves. ICE Special Agents Alek Pacheco and Reynaldo Medina discuss this subject in the videos, providing valuable information and tips for children and preteens ages 6 to 12.
“We identified the need to increase the discussion about cyber security for children given that so many of them are studying online because of the quarantine, and are therefore more exposed to online predators than ever before”, said Giovanna Ramírez de Arellano, communications and corporate responsibility director at Liberty Puerto Rico. “Through our partnership with ICE, we want to spark a conversation on this important issue and offer valuable resources so children, youths and adults can protect themselves from possible predators lurking on the Internet.”
According to Ivan J. Arvelo, special agent in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Puerto Rico and USVI, along with increased Internet use since the COVID-19 quarantine began in March, and a rising number of students and adults working online, the agency has received a growing number of referrals from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). Referrals from the non-profit organization, which handles cases of missing and exploited children and youths up to age 20, surged 48 percent in March, jumped 127 percent in April and increased 23 percent in May. This trend has continued during this fiscal year’s last two quarters.
“Crimes against children in Puerto Rico and around the entire nation are growing at alarming levels and that is very worrisome”, Arvelo said. “At the national level, since the launch of ICE’s Operation Predator in 2003, and up to 2019, ICE HSI carried out 19,000 arrests related to the possession, production and distribution of child pornography, as well as transporting minors with the intention of forcing them into some type of criminal sexual conduct.”
The special agent added that during the 2019 fiscal year, ICE opened 4,474 cases in the United States, including Puerto Rico, resulting in 3,957 arrests and the identification and rescue of 1,069 victims.
The series of videos produced by Liberty Puerto Rico and ICE is currently available in downloadable format in Navega con seguridad’s microsite at http://navegaconseguridad.net/recursos.html.
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