Coronavirus

Online Sex Predators Are Targeting Kids During Online Learning, FBI Warns

Sex predators are increasingly trying to exploit kids online with so many school children home doing online learning amid the coronavirus crisis , the FBI says.

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What to Know

  • Sex predators are increasingly trying to exploit kids online with so many school children home doing online learning amid the coronavirus crisis, according to the FBI, as agents report a growing number of complaints from parents
  • Investigators said the predators are frequenting gaming and social media sites popular with minors
  • Investigators suggest parents have an appropriate talk with any child who uses the internet to warn them of possible suspicious activity online

Sex predators are increasingly trying to exploit kids online with so many school children home doing online learning amid the coronavirus crisis, according to the FBI, as agents report a growing number of complaints from parents.

Among the issues: children have been asked to pose naked and to send explicit photos to online predators. 

“We are seeing an uptick both within the state of New Jersey and across the country in tips that are being reported in regards to child sexual exploitation,” said Jonathan Norbut of the FBI New Jersey Office. 

Norbut warns that suspects often pose as a child or teen. The illicit conduct starts out online as just chatting and then the predator tries to entice children of all ages to make videos or to send photos.

“Once the child has started to produce sexual content for that adult, then that offender begins to ratchet up the nature of that contact.  And the child is caught in a spiral  of behavior and activity and they are not exactly sure how to get out of that,” Norbut said.

Investigators said the predators are frequenting gaming and social media sites popular with minors. They said parents should have an appropriate talk with any child who uses the internet to warn them of possible suspicious activity online.  Officials also recommend children do their online work in an open area of the home so parents can keep an ear or eye out for anything suspicious.

“Discuss with your child games and applications that your child is using in order to have a clear understanding how it is going to be used by the child,” Norbut said.  

Norbut declined to say how many child sex predator investigations initiated during the last few weeks.  He said the FBI is working with local police departments with the complaints that have been filed.

In addition to parents, he said school officials also need to be extra vigilant.  School officials are also required to report any incident to police or the FBI immediately.

“If a child does encounter such behavior, they should be made to feel comfortable to report it to a trusted adult whether it be a parent, a teacher, a law enforcement officer or another caregiver.”

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