FBI warns parents, teachers about increased risks of online child exploitation

FBI warns parents, teachers about increased risks of online child exploitation
(KIRO 7)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Bureau of Investigations is warning parents, teachers and caregivers about the dangers of child exploitation as more children are online during the coronavirus pandemic.

With all K-12 schools in Washington closed until at least April 24, many parents are having their children use online learning tools to keep up with their academics.

“Offenders may make casual contact with children online, gain their trust, and introduce sexual conversation that increases in egregiousness over time,” a spokesperson for the FBI wrote in a news release.

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Officials said eventually, the activity may result in maintaining an online relationship that includes sexual conversation and the exchange of illicit images.

The FBI is offering the following tips to help educate and prevent children from becoming victims of child predators and sexual exploitation:

  • Discuss Internet safety with children of all ages when they engage in online activity.
  • Review and approve games and apps before they are downloaded.
  • Make sure privacy settings are set to the strictest level possible for online gaming systems and electronic devices.
  • Monitor your children’s use of the Internet; keep electronic devices in an open, common room of the house.
  • Check your children’s profiles and what they post online.
  • Explain to your children that images posted online will be permanently on the Internet.
  • Make sure children know that anyone who asks a child to engage in sexually explicit activity online should be reported to a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult and law enforcement.
  • Remember that victims should not be afraid to tell law enforcement if they are being sexually exploited. It is not a crime for a child to send sexually explicit images to someone if they are compelled or coerced to do so.

If you believe you are, or someone you know is, the victim of child sexual exploitation you are asked to contact your local law enforcement agency, contact your local FBI field office or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

Click here for more information about the FBI’s guidance on child sexual exploitation and protecting your kids.