Virtual learning

SHREVEPORT, La. -- A disturbing trend is emerging in this era of virtual learning -- a rise in online sexual predator cases.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry says his office has seen a 200 percent increase in that crime since March. That's when the pandemic sent kids to computer devices instead of classrooms.

So the Northwest Louisiana Human Trafficking Task Force has launched a campaign to warn parents, called Project R.I.S.K. The acronym stands for Reliable Internet Safety for Kids.

Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker said the increase in kids' internet activity means a greater chance they could interact with predators.

Parker advises, "Always place your child's laptop, tablet, phone in a common area in the house. The predator cases develop when the child is usually messaging on an application with strangers when the guardian doesn't even know the child is online."

He says communication is another key for parents to protecting their children.

Television viewers may be seeing a public service announcement with messages from local law enforcement leaders. They offer advice on how to protect your children.

Members of the task force will be available to meet with citizens, local government officials, community organizations, school boards, churches, and other groups to discuss Project R.I.S.K. and internet safety, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana.

"All agencies in our Task Force share a united front to eliminate all human trafficking type cases; however, to be more successful, we need assistance from the public. We understand many guardians want to protect their kids but may not know where to look for reliable internet safety information. Project R.I.S.K. has asked all agencies in our Task Force to post this reliable information on their websites, so guardians will always have this information at their fingertips. Finally, members of the Task Force will be available to meet with citizens, local government officials, community organizations, school boards, churches, and other groups to discuss Project R.I.S.K. and internet safety," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Campbell, human trafficking coordinator for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The Northwest Louisiana Human Trafficking Task Force is comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organizations. It was formed in an effort to promote enhanced collaboration between all agencies involved in combatting human trafficking cases in our area.

Participants include: Bossier City Marshal’s Office, Bossier City Police Department, Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force (FBI-Shreveport Field Office), Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office, DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigations' Shreveport Field Office, Greenwood Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations' Shreveport Field Office, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Louisiana Alcohol Tobacco Commission, Louisiana State Police Office of Special Investigations, Barksdale Air Force Base, Sabine Parish Sherriff’s Office, Shreveport Police Department, United States Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, United States Department of State, United States Marshal Service Western District of Louisiana, Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office, United States Attorney’s Office (Western District of Louisiana), Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office, Bossier/Webster Parish District Attorney’s Office and Louisiana State Attorney’s General Office.