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CA: Reports of online child sex abuse surge amid pandemic

[latimes.com – 5/22/20]

Law enforcement officials in Los Angeles and across the country have been overwhelmed in recent months by a surge in tips about online child sex abuse, with social media platforms and other service providers flagging explicit content and suspicious interactions at an alarming rate.

With schools closed, youth activities canceled and kids spending more time online under stay-at-home orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, sexual predators have ramped up their efforts to solicit pictures and videos, officials say.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a clearinghouse that disseminates tips to law enforcement, took in 4.1 million reports of child cyber abuse in April, a fourfold increase over April 2019, said John Shehan, head of the center’s exploited children division.

In March, the center received more than 2 million reports, more than double what it received in March 2019.

The surge has slowed in May, Shehan said, but the volume has remained above average.

“It was definitely a huge increase compared to the year prior, and has put a huge strain on law enforcement around the world, who are dealing with a pandemic and all of these reports coming in at the same time,” Shehan said.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit, which processes tips from Shehan’s organization for five area counties before referring them to local agencies, received nearly 3,000 tips in April, up from 1,355 in March, said Lt. Anthony Cato, the unit’s commander.

More than half of the tips fell under the LAPD’s jurisdiction.

Read the full article

 

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  1. Eric

    Let me interpret that: Law enforcement increases online sting operations in hopes of snaring people spending more time on the computer due to stay at home orders.

    • A.D.A.T.

      I interpreted this as law enforcement and nosey neighbors using this as an opportunity due to the reduced incidence of other everyday offenses. Basically, when people are bored, we become the subject of their interest. Just as politicians use us as a way to get attention and funding. We are a tool, an object to be used for a purpose, nothing more.
      This is why when one of us is killed in a violent act, not much is done. Even the violent act itself isn’t considered heinous. Like throwing a glass and smashing it. There are plenty of more glasses out there to smash, so no tears lost.

  2. Harry

    ” 4.1 million reports of child cyber abuse in April” What kind of abuse was it and by whom? I got my money on children by children and most are not sexual. How much of these reports have been collaborated? Maybe 1 out of 70. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are campaigning for more money and nothing else.

    • Tim and n WI

      @Harry,
      PSA’s run on “child hunger” as American child obesity rates run “progressive” and factual increase in raw % as age group assignment develops over time.The
      As the population ages people get fatter.
      2-4y 13%
      5-7y 15%
      8-10y 18%
      11-13y 21%
      https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html

      Rates in every age group when minority aspect is included increases! In other words minorities , save the Asians, suffer more obesity in general than the body whole. America has a lot of obese or overweight people.
      But that didn’t stop the pedo-centrists from their agenda.
      More evidence of observed by measurement an over-fed population.

      • Rosco

        @Tim in Wisconsin Sometimes I wonder what the fuck are you talking about! You saying minority groups shouldn’t count in statistics cuz they aint American and white or something? Since covids hitting minorities like blacks and Hispanics in milwaukee, they don’t count either, so we should keep the rest of your fucked up state open. You should stick to talkin about sex offender stuff because some of the racist stuff you say would get you ran out of Mass.

        • Tim in WI

          The point being…..The progressive left media uses children’s plights in many forms to manipulate the people for political profit. In America’s march away from a democratic republic of 50 toward a single democratic socialist state, benevolence is measured by popularity. The sex offender registries were touted as a panacea and prophylactic against paedophilia when in reality it was far more about its ” alternate database purposes. ”

          If you want people to open their wallets convince them they’re protecting children!

        • Notorious D.I.K.ennerly

          Tim, you really need to reevaluate your position. The current and enduring hysteria was produced by both the left and the right; “gender-feminists” and Christian fundamentalists, especially. It could never have been as successful as it has been without that breadth of support (and most everyone in between). That’s why we are experiencing a kind of mass-psychosis when it comes to “sex offenders.” It could have been no other way.

          I can name dozens of right-wing fanatics (from memory and starting with Anita Bryant [whom I protested several times]) who were at least as responsible as the left whom I can also name. I’ve been here for the whole, fucking, sordid travesty. It has been an ugly, horrific spiral into madness that has blighted or destroyed millions of lives.

          So let’s cohere, regardless of political stripe, into a powerful, organized force to be reckoned with. Let’s leave aside all other issues to come together on the one issue that we, alone, are fighting.

  3. David

    Gotta keep the panic going, right??
    Because “With children stuck at home and away from their friends and teachers, reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect has fallen off dramatically”, officials have noted.
    Since the great majority of sexual offenses against children are committed by someone known to the child ….and those are not being reported….. they turn to the most convenient and timely form of “stranger danger”: “the scary dark interweb is coming to get your children!!😱”

  4. NorthEastPENN

    Just another way for The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to justify trying to receive more funding. “Stranger Danger”, look out for “white vans” etc – stir up fear and get more money.

  5. Dustin

    That the claim comes from NCMEC in the first place tells me its pretty dubious.

    • David

      @ Dustin: Yup, it’s just like that typical claim that
      “99.999%* of sexual assaults** are never reported”. Well if they’re “never reported”, then how does one come up with these bogus numbers??
      *And you can pick any percentage you like – because if it can’t be proven or disproven, the figure should be considered conjecture.
      ** And, when in doubt, redefine what is considered sexual assault! Whistling? Cat calling? And immodest stare? Why not? – If it boosts the numbers!
      (Apologies to all, I think I had too much cynicism with my coffee this morning!)

  6. Saddles

    Abuse, Abuse, Abuse so what is abuse. Even Harry came up with something that makes a good point. Are computers abused, isn’t explortation abuse, or is calling someone a Son of a Pig abuse today. What about intent of abuse as in many of these internet situations. So how many abuses are their in a sting operation.

    Is closing the mexican border abuse by governmental athority or does man actually know abuse. Sure we have this computer today and who gave the person the wisdom to invent this computer. Put it iin prospective and you will know who’s abusing today. I’m sure everyone can understand that. Nothing wrong with kids or adults using the internet but who is still in control of things.

    Yes we have police that do these things and entice and sure they know their glame plan and intent. We all as the victim don’t even understand in many ways but if you “listen” than you understand. Yes these ordeals can get confusing but God is their in the good times and the bad times.

    Exploiting can take on many forms or who exploited the lindbergh baby. Even Al Copone wanted to help from prison. All in all these registry ordeals are exploiting and inducing by false persuasion of inducement. Its more of a come on type of ordeal.

  7. Jackson

    Now they call it “online child sex abuse.” It went from looking at dirty pictures of minors to possessing cp on your computer to now you’re sexually abusing those children by looking at those fotos, and oh its a violent crime too. The NCMEC & the victims rights industry are sick puppies for teaming up with fearmongering politicians that support draconian internet crime laws. What are these people going to do when “real crime” goes back up? Are they going to keep filling the federal pens with half of the offenders having done something on their computer? The fact that these “cybertips” keep rocketing up every year should tell these ‘rights’ idiots something. Those laws ain’t working. And once violent crime dramatically starts rising (and it will) if we stay at 20% unemployment because of covid, state and federal governments are going to start shelving some of these pet cybercrime projects pushed by vic rights people because states have to concentrate on getting & filling prisons with the big boys, the computer guys can wait.

  8. Saddles

    Janice and kat while I’m sure adults get the raw end of the registry by manulipated means. Can you tell us if kids of pre 16 are caught up in this sex registry or is that confidentisal. Would that not be a bit sadistic in so many ways as compaired to adults or what would be the difference. I had never even thought about that but I’m sure that happens and I’m sure money extortation plays a lot in this ordeal by parents for theses kids.

    • ab

      Under federal statutes anyone not yet 18 including one day before their eighteenth birthday is still a child, I’m sure certain exceptions exist where a child can be prosecuted as an adult federally. States have varying laws both around age of consent and circumstances where someone can be prosecuted as an adult or child on a case by case basis. It’s been a while, but I’ve seen stories here, on the news, and heard about instances by talking to people where 7 or 8 year olds had to register, perhaps even younger. So yeah those under eighteen absolutely are on the registry.

      Also what did we expect? A lot of people are home. What else are they going to do if not complain, get upset at web content, and freak out when they see something which does not fit into their perception of “normal” ? This isn’t to say all the bad stuff is not happening, just that people and tech systems are not helping most of the time in presenting an accurate picture of what’s going on. There are probably slight upticks in illegal content and conduct online, but I don’t think suddenly a lot more bad people showed up or the same bad people are more active. A lot of teens and some additional preteens are likely responsible for the extra chaos with about the same number of adult bad actors doing the same stuff they normally do.

    • Gwen

      We should remember that every High School in America has Seniors who are 18 years old. From what my high school teenagers tell me about their High School is that their friends who are Seniors and are18 have absolutely no idea that what they may or may not be doing online or with a girlfriend or boyfriend would very well place them up on the registry

      • Will Allen

        Yep. I was thinking just yesterday how much America over-incarcerates people and wondering what is wrong with us. I wasn’t just thinking about $EX crimes, but crimes in general. For crime X, a country can decide should they imprison the person for 1 year, 5 years, life, what? I just really feel like we incarcerate people for way, way too long. There is no legitimate reason to do it for punishment, a few years is usually enough for that. The only legitimate, moral reason I can see is to prevent a person from committing more crimes.

        But anyway, given how we allow our governments to so immorally over-punish people, I really think we ought to force our governments to educate all very young people about what types of things are crimes and the punishments that they carry. It is a moral obligation to tell these children. Perhaps during the first year of high school or earlier. Or better yet, multiple times. We cannot rely on parents to do it, many are dumb and incompetent. It must be the very governments that will put your child into prison for decades.

        All Americans should demand no less.

      • M C

        I don’t know about in CA or other places but where I live, they don’t tell kids in highschool much about sex offenses at all and when they have they don’t talk about consequences. Whether or not someone agrees with the existence of a registry or not, I think it’s the job of the education system itself to educate highschool aged kids about these draconian laws so that they have at a minimum know what they can expect for the rest of their life if they end up on a registry. If we can’t change the registry laws (at least in the hear future) we must at least demand people receive a proper education about avoiding getting on them. This education requirement should be added to any bill that modifies any registration scheme unless the modification ends the registration scheme all together. That’s my opinion at least!

  9. James

    This article troubles me. The main focus was on actual cases of abuse as opposed to sting set ups where no victim exists. These are real reports, which should give us pause to think about our families and how we prepare our children for safely entering the digital world. Simply dismissing the report as more propaganda for LE misses an important takeaway, keeping our loved ones safe online.

    Most of the reports concern perpetrators overseas, so I don’t think this reflects negatively on our advocacy efforts. It’s not registrants committing these crimes. It’s criminal elements in other countries, who have more free reign to operate, safe from prosecution here in the US. They bombard us with malware, phishing attacks, and so it wouldn’t be a far stretch for them to exploit our kids for profit too.

    We just need to be smart about online exposure in our households and let’s not bash LE when they pursue legitimate investigations into criminal activity. Anyone who does risks appearing to support this kind of criminal activity.

    • Eric

      @ James…You are correct, and we all know this. Nobody is discounting that there is a very real risk in the internet age and that abuse and exploitation exists, and nobody condones it. But those of us that have first hand experienced the wrath of the justice system know that it is very skewed and has become very politically charged. There is tremendous money and political favor involved with the fear around the word sex offender, and so people who have made a poor choice in life regarding their sexuality are now the ones being exploited by this system.

      As you said, clear evidence shows that few people convicted of a sex crime re-offend, the majority of new cases are from people not convicted. But the heavy handed punitive way past offenders are dealt with only prevents them from reintegrating into society. For example MLI has destroyed many peoples careers and families as we cannot travel. I never did any type of international crime, nor did I do any type of hands on offense, yet I cannot travel out of the country because the “thought police” have decided I “might” do something in the future, with absolutely zero evidence to back it up. In fact, I had several polygraph tests which confirmed I never did a hands on offense in my past, yet that doesn’t matter for some reason. As well, there are constantly new laws and restrictions coming about, anytime a low IQ, uninspired politician is up for reelection they just scream “Sex Offender” and promise to punish them all mercilessly and they garner votes. And in the end the registry and all the hysteria has not reduced sex offenses nor CP on the internet, in fact internet CP has quadrupled in the past few years.

      The fallacy of the public outcry can easily be seen with the #Metoo movement and how easily it crumbled. When Kavanaugh was accused everybody wanted to lynch him without a trial because we mus t believe all women, Yet when Biden is now accused, well, don’t’ be so quick to rush to judgment. It isn’t about protecting women, and it isn’t about protecting children or any people abused. The bottom line is the laws and hysteria around sex crimes are about money and votes. My cynicism has been forged from personal experience as I sat in a cell for many years and read the paper regularly and saw articles of people who killed dogs with their bare hands, and shot people, and did violent robberies with guns all got a fraction of the time I got for a non-contact offense. It has been a bitter pill to swallow.

  10. Tim in WI

    @Notorious D. Kennerly,

    I am well aware the right wingers played their part in OMNIBUS94, and the Wetterling Act. I too can make both sides accountable. The thing about the right wingers is they despise the thought of government intervention into their rearing of their children, but felt compelled to play ball for somewhat different reasons. We can look to the huge database facility in Saratoga springs ( Project Angel Watch) as evidence of the point. There is another program attached to that facility, it is the PRYSM Program which you can find discussed here. Eff.org.

    However the bill was Signed by Bill Clinton And they had control of both houxes. Repubs took it back in NOV.1994. However the nearly unanimous vote was cast with only 3 SENATE decenters( on HR5533). Russ Feingold being from my the one from my state to decent and voted Nay. The next cycle he was dumped by the DNCC and lost his bid for re-election.

    I had the opportunity to ask the good Senator why he voted No on the bill. His response was ” It’s unfathomable ” but I’d not understand his response nor what he mean at that time(98). Now I understand he was dismayed about the electronic indenture of man to machine database property. A repackaging of slavery. Free men are paid to maintain machines. So here we have a Southern red neck Democrat from Arkansas reinstating slavery where the commodity produced is personal data collection and storage. Our government has long had database files of bad guys but never before had men been forced to maintain them by law.

    If we extrapolate my use of anecdotal evidence into the current administration & the misuses of FISA Warrant we see the problem becomes very clear indeed. Political Security rather than a public’s security through the use of the electronic infrastructure. Mr. Snowden made that point clear. Again it will fall on the Republicans to stamp out the reoccurring scourge known as slavery.

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