Computer telecommunications have become one of the most prevalent techniques used by pedophiles to share illegal photographic images of minors and to lure children into illicit sexual relationships.
The Internet has dramatically increased access sex offenders have to the population they seek to victimize.
By using chat rooms, children can chat for hours with unknown individuals, often without the knowledge or approval of their parents. A recent FBI investigation revealed that computer sex offenders used chat rooms to contact children. Chat rooms offer the advantage of immediate communication around the world and provide the pedophile with an anonymous means of identifying and recruiting children into sexually illicit relationships.
These individuals attempt to sexually exploit your kids through the use of online services and the Internet. These "candy cane" luring computer wizards are skilled in the art of seduction. They spend large amounts of time, money, and energy on the latest trends, music, and hobbies of children. Their words are often inviting, soothing to the child on the other end of the computer screen.
According to Los Angeles prosecutor Robin Sax, a predator, over time, knows how to lower a child's inhibitions by slowly introducing sexual context and content into their online conversations. (Ms. Sax's upcoming book, Everything Parents want to know about Predators and Molesters: A Sex Crimes DA Answers Your 100 Most-Asked Questions, will be released in March of 2009.)
The two main tools a predator uses on their young victims are online chat rooms and personal instant messages.
Once they gain the trust of the child, a predator will arrange a meeting at a nearby park, fast-food restaurant, or mall.
Two excellent resources for parents are the sexual predator database and an online Web information and investigation service.
To report child pornography and/or sexual exploitation of children, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's Cyber Tip-line.
The Cyber Tip-line allows parents and children to file a report by submitting an online form. This form is then reviewed by analysts and forwarded to law enforcement including the FBI, the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and state and local police agencies. For additional information on Internet safety, check out the FBI brochure titled "A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety."