The Department of Homeland Security has identified 552 children so far this year who've been victims of sexual exploitation in our region. New Orleans Office Spokesperson Bryan Cox says the large number shows there is a massive problem nation wide. He says During the summer children may be more vulnerable to predators.
"It is a great time for parents and kids to be aware of the problem, to have a conversation, and just to have some common sense about things you can do to not be a victim," Cox says
Cox says sexual exploitation is not always about taking a picture, it can also include rape and violent images and videos. He says 36 of the children identified were found with the department's New Orleans office. The local office ranked 4th in the nation with the number if children identified.
"Here in Louisiana, as the statics that just came out, New Orleans ranks 4th out of 26 regional head quarters for the number of children rescued. It is a problem here as well as a problem nation wide and it is a problem both parents and kids should be aware of," Cox says.
Even though New Orleans Office serves Louisiana, Mississippi and other surrounding states, most of the regions I.D.ed children were found through an Abita Springs massive child pornography ring. Cox says it is vital that parents talk to their children about internet predators. He says kids need to also know never to share pictures of themselves or personal info with strangers online.
"Easy things to do are keeping the computer in a common area of the house so kids don't have private access, knowing your children's passwords so you can periodically see what they are up to and recognize signs of victimization," Cox says.