May Marks Project Safe Childhood Month

May 19, 2011 Updated May 19, 2011 at 5:14 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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May Marks Project Safe Childhood Month

May 19, 2011 Updated May 19, 2011 at 5:14 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- In recognition of Project Safe Childhood Month, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. joined with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshal Service, the U.S. Postal Service, the NYS Police and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to send a message to all adults about the need to protect our children.

"One of the greatest responsibilities we as adults have is to protect our children from harm," said U.S. Attorney Hochul. "Unfortunately, our children are exposed to many more dangers these days, especially in cyberspace."

Project Safe Childhood is a Department of Justice initiative launched in 2006 that aims to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children. The threat of sexual predators soliciting children for physical sexual contact is well known and serious; the danger of perpetrators who produce, distribute and possess child pornography is equally dramatic and disturbing.

In 2010, in the Western District of New York, 50 defendants were charged with crimes. Forty-four of those defendants have been sentenced, 33 of them to five years or more in federal prison. So far in 2011, 27 defendants have been charged and of the 25 sentenced, 14 will be spending at least five years behind bars.

Crimes prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative include the production, distribution, receipt, transportation and possession of child pornography; buying and selling children for the purpose of producing child pornography; the advertising of child pornography; enticement; transporting a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity; traveling across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with a minor; the sex trafficking of minors and failure to register as a sex offender.

“Project Safe Childhood has mobilized New York and the nation in an historic multi-jurisdictional, multi-disciplinary attack on Internet-based crimes against children,” said Edward Suk, Executive Director of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children/New York. “We commend US Attorney Hochul, Attorney General Holder, and the leaders of federal, state and local law enforcement for their vision and commitment to children. We are honored to be a partner in this historic effort.”

"As the numbers show, we have been successful, working side by side with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, in tracking down and bringing these predators to justice," said Hochul. "But we cannot rest. We will continue to work with our community partners, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in hopes of preventing the need for such prosecutions."

TIPS: ONLINE

1. With extra time on their hands, some kids will undoubtedly be spending more time on the computer. Parents need to monitor that computer usage including the time spent online and the Web sites their children are visiting. It is also a good idea to keep the family computer in a common area, rather than a child’s bedroom.

2. Know what other access your child may have to the internet such as friends’ houses, the library and cell phones.

3. Discuss with your children what is appropriate to post online and what is not such as information about themselves and pictures.

4. Encourage your children to let you know if they are approached by a stranger online, someone they don’t know, especially if they are scared or confused.

Facebook Tips for Parents

1. Join Facebook yourself, if you aren’t on it already. Familiarize yourself with the site and become “friends” with your child. Older teens may balk at this, but it should be an absolute requirement for pre-teens, tweens and younger teens who want to join.

2. Teach your kids to be wary of using FB applications. When a child uses these applications, that information may be broadcast on his or her FB page. Teach your kids to avoid clicking on anything that they don’t want advertised to every friend on their feed.

3. Keep contact information private by carefully checking out FB’s privacy settings for “Contact Information.” You can restrict who sees an email address, phone number, website, hometown, etc.

4. Remove your children’s Facebook profile (and your own) from public search engines. Since the default on the site is to allow this, you will need to go to the Privacy options page (under Account) and uncheck the box next to “Create a public search listing for me and submit it for search engine indexing.”

5. People often “tag” photos on FB, which means identifying people in the pictures. To avoid having tagged photos be seen by strangers, go to your profile privacy page and click on the setting “Photos Tagged of You”. Select the option which says “Customize.” A box will pop up asking you who you want to allow to see photos others might have posted and tagged with your name. The safest setting is “Only Me,” but you can also choose Select Friends, and then enter the names of your most trusted friends who will be allowed to see them. This would be a good place to add mom or dad’s name to your kids’ lists, so you get to see what pictures others post of them.

For more information, parents can visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov