Federal, State, Local Law Enforcement Educate Parents about Predators on Social Media

HERMANTOWN, Minn. – On Tuesday night, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors on the federal, state, and local levels joined together to educate parents about how predators coerce teens and kids for explicit photos and videos on social media.

The illegal practice is also known as “sextortion,” which is when a predator uses tactics such as blackmail and harassment to intimidate their victims into sending them child pornography of themselves.

The panel of experts explained that child predators will create aliases to trick kids and teens that they are someone they’re not on social media.

71% of sextortion victims are young girls, and one in four victims are 12 years-old or younger.

For teens, the emotional part of of their brains develops much fast faster than the rational, decision-making side.

That’s why it’s important for parents to talk to their children about Internet safety.

“Kids need to understand when they exchange photos, inappropriate photos, naked photos, they’re going to be there forever,” St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin explained. “And it’s going to be used against them. And they’ve got to be aware of that and it’s just, you have to be that careful and they’ve got to be a little smarter in that regard.”

In the Twin Ports, there is an Internet Crimes Against Children task force made up of local law enforcement agencies on both sides of the bridge.

The task force that tracks down child pornography catches predators with the IP addresses on their computers.

“About 70 to 80% of people who are exchanging child pornography at some point will actually harm a child.” Duluth Chief of Police Mike Tusken said. “And so it’s very important to intercede and have intervention in people who are exchanging child pornography because ultimately they are more apt to harm a child.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Provinzino emphasized that having direct conversations with your children about what they’re doing both in their real lives and online can make a difference.

“We need parents to be involved and that means having a presence within their child’s social media presence, knowing what’s happening at school, asking probing questions,” Provinzino said. “There are different tools to help monitor internet use, but there’s really no substitute for having those conversations.”

Parents whose children have been victims of sextortion can report the crimes to local law enforcement, and directly to the FBI.

“If we see something that doesn’t look right, if there’s something that just doesn’t seem to be on the up and up, to report it,” Anders Folk, First Assistant U.S. Attorney, said.



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