Children said vulnerable to Internet,crime
Children can be in danger in their homes, Summit County Internet-crime experts warned at a presentation at the Summit County Library on Monday.
The Summit County Attorney’s Office and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office presented "Internet Crimes against Children," in an effort to educate parents on the dangers posed to children using the Internet unsupervised.
"This is one of the newest and scariest crimes. It is one of the most dangerous places kids can go," Christina Sally, Summit County investigator said. "The most significant tool for parents to protect their children is parent awareness."
Michelle Parker, a computer lab teacher at The Colby School, attended the meeting for the latest information about Internet crimes. She said "there are quicksand patches on the Internet, and we teach children how to avoid them."
She said she teaches second-grade students not to use the Internet without an adult present. Fourth-grade students may already be accessing chat rooms, and she said she warns them that they don’t know who they may be talking with. They should also have an adult present, she said.
Sally said predators look for vulnerable children in chat rooms. Even if children do not divulge personal information, or even their gender, a savvy predator can likely determine from an e-mail address the child’s name, address, the school she likely attends, her interests and when she is most often home. That information can be obtained in less than 20 minutes, Sally said.
My Space is a concern for law enforcement, Sally said. There is no way of knowing who users of the service are really talking to, whether they are the teen they claim to be, or a convicted sex offender.
Tim Roybal, an investigator on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, has been on the force for two years.
"Some of the online predators are so aggressive, it scares you," he said. "In three minutes online, guys were talking in a graphic way. Words can’t describe how aggressive these predators were."
In this instance, Roybal was posing as a boy. Roybal spoke of arresting predators trying to meet who they thought were children in chat rooms, but were officers posing as children.
"We’re staying busy," he said of the arrests his task force is making. "There are tons and tons of solid arrests. We have a 99 percent conviction rate. We always find these predators were involved with more than one victim."
But then comes the question of what to do with the predators, often convicted of second-degree felonies. Summit County Attorney David Brickey spoke of the dilemma:
"Where are you going to put these guys?" he asked. "Part of the fear is that you are sending them to prison with other offenders, and they end up getting a better education on how to commit these crimes when they get out." He hopes potential offenders receive treatment in the earliest stages before they commit serious crimes.
Sgt. Kevin Orgill, a school resource officer with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office summed up his opinion of a child on the Internet without supervision.
"You think your child is safe in the house, but it’s like you have a prowler in their closet when they hook up with him on the Internet," he said
Roybal spoke of what children should see as danger signs when talking with someone online:
If the person asks where the computer is located in the house, he is likely concerned a parent may happen upon his attempted seduction.
The question to the child, "do you want to go private," leaving the chat room and e-mailing or text messaging only each other
Questions about the child’s favorite music or clothes, possibly gift information for the predator to win the child over.
The line, "I know how you can earn money fast."
A act of concern, like, "you seem sad," creating the impression of caring.
Roybal spoke of what signs should concern parents:
Your child is online for hours at a time.
You find pornography on the computer
Packages arrive from people you don’t know, addressed to your child
Your child changes the screen when you enter the room
Your child becomes withdrawn
Roybal had possible solutions:
Keep the computer in a common area of the house, where a child cannot access the Internet unsupervised.
Find out what sites have been visited on the computer
For more information about Internet crimes, visit the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force at http://www.attorneygeneral.utah.gov or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at http://www.ncmec.org
For setting up a presentation in schools, or for parents, contact Christina Sally at (435) 615-3829
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