COVINGTON, La. (Oct. 16, 2019)—Louisiana families now have a new tool to keep their children safer from online predators, and law enforcement can better protect communities in their own living rooms. Leading law enforcement partner OffenderWatch today announces the launch of its new mobile app, OffenderWatch Safe Virtual Neighborhood. Safe Virtual Neighborhood is an app that monitors Snapchat activity, texts, emails, location and phone calls, sending an alert to a parent or guardian if a registered sex offender contacts the device, or if the device lingers near the address of a sex offender for an extended period.
OffenderWatch has partnered with all registering law enforcement agencies in Louisiana to offer the app to Louisiana families and community members. The company announced the new app during a joint press conference with the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association.
“Our mission is to help law enforcement better protect communities from sexual predators, so we’re constantly innovating to offer new solutions to improve safety online and in neighborhoods,” said Mike Cormaci, president and co-founder of Covington-based Watch Systems, parent company of OffenderWatch. “As predators continue to groom and solicit children online, we’re helping law enforcement and families combat these efforts before it becomes a tragedy. If Safe Virtual Neighborhood helps to save one child from abuse, it’s worth it.”
Online safety has been a challenge for both law enforcement and technology companies for years—but now OffenderWatch Safe Virtual Neighborhood is helping to bridge the gap. In fact, one in five teens has received an unwanted sexual solicitation online, according to the Crimes Against Children Research Center. In 2018, most of the more than 18 million tips reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children dealt with:
- Apparent child sexual abuse images.
- Online enticement, including “sextortion.”
- Child sex trafficking.
- Child sexual molestation.
“Online safety is a huge problem today. Parents need to be vigilant of what websites they’re children are visiting and educate their children about not talking to strangers online,” said Sheriff Greg Champagne of St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office. “I’m proud that Louisiana is the first state to offer families and individuals a better way to stay protected from online predators. Safe Virtual Neighborhood is the only online sex offender safety app partnered with law enforcement, so it’s using data and information the public can trust.”
How OffenderWatch Safe Virtual Neighborhood Works
- Parents who sign up for Safe Virtual Neighborhood download the app on their child’s smartphone device.
- The app monitor’s the child’s smartphone Snapchat activity, texts, emails, location and phone calls in the background, without storing the child’s messages or interfering with its use.
- If a registered sex offender contacts the child, or if the child the child lingers near the address of a sex offender, the parent or guardian receives an instant notification.
- From there, parents should ask their children about their smartphone activity or contact law enforcement to investigate.
Louisiana parents and guardians can download the app or learn more at OffenderWatch.com. OffenderWatch plans to partner with law enforcement to offer Safe Virtual Neighborhood in other states by the end of the year.