|SARASOTA, Fla. (Jan. 07, 2022) – The University of South Florida and the Junior League of Tampa will offer a free interactive discussion on Tuesday, Jan. 11, from 7 to 9 p.m., to help parents recognize warning signs and create safeguards to protect their children from online predators. |
The discussion, Human Trafficking in the Age of Technology: Warning Signs and Legal Protection for Minor Victims, will examine predators’ methods and how the COVID-19 pandemic created greater risk as more children isolated at home and turned to social media and chatrooms to connect with friends.
The session is open to the public and will be streamed live on Facebook. Visit https://fb.me/e/M2W1U2cv to register and attend.
The discussion, which resulted from a collaboration of USF’s Trafficking in Persons (TiP) Research Lab, the Cybercrime Interdisciplinary Behavioral Research Lab and the Junior League of Tampa, will include an information session with panelists and an audience Q&A moderated by Associate Professor Fawn Ngo, who helped organize the event.
The speakers include:
Human trafficking attorney Jacquelyn Bradford, Gulfcoast Legal Services, Inc.
Colby Valentine, assistant professor of instruction, Department of Criminology, University of South Florida
Roberta (Birdy) O’Malley, assistant professor, Department of Criminology, University of South Florida
Jeff Burke, an FBI special agent assigned to cybercrime cases
Joan Reid, director of the TiP Lab, which is based on the USF St. Peterburg campus, will offer opening remarks and introduce the speakers.
The livestream arose out of discussions between Reid and Junior League members that first occurred last summer as the members sought advice to protect children when online.
Kaitlin Howell, chair of the League’s Human Trafficking Awareness Committee, said she expects more than 100 League members to attend the two-hour session.
“We’re very impressed by the panel USF has put together for us and we’re looking forward to an interesting and informative discussion and receiving updated statistics,” she said.
Online predation of children is widespread across the U.S. with an estimated 500,000 online predators active daily. The FBI reports that more than 50 percent of victims of online sexual exploitation are between the ages of 12 and 15 and an estimated 89 percent of online sexual advances occur in internet chatrooms or through instant messaging.
“Human trafficking awareness is one of the areas of concern for the Junior League of Tampa, and we are very invested in bringing awareness to this issue as it continues to impact communities across the nation, especially during the pandemic,” said Ngo, a criminologist at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. “The lab members also are excited that the discussion presents an opportunity for USF to reach out and collaborate with community members to address important issues like child exploitation.”
To learn more about the Trafficking in Persons (TiP) Research Lab, visit https://tiplab.cbcs.usf.edu/. For more about the Cybercrime Interdisciplinary Behavioral Research Lab, visit https://www.cibrlab.org/.###
|About the University of South Florida |
The University of South Florida, a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success, generates an annual economic impact of more than $6 billion. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.