(Landover, MD) – Within days of each other at the end of August, two separate investigations—one in Ohio and one in Georgia—resulted in the arrest of 27 individuals in Ohio interested in engaging in sexual activity with minor children and the rescue of 39 endangered missing children in Georgia. These are two small victories among the widespread problem of missing children and child sexual abuse online happening at an unfathomable scale in our country.
As technology continues to evolve and our youth spends an increasing amount of time online, we must take extreme precaution, especially as a majority of children begin virtual schooling this fall due to COVID-19. According to a recent study conducted by NortonLifeLock, a global leader in consumer Cyber Safety, nearly 7 out of 10 parents (69%) said that their child’s screen time has heightened during the pandemic, while most parents (60%) are concerned they don’t have enough time to keep track of what their child is doing online.
Child internet safety is important now more than ever, and we must educate ourselves and our children about the cycle of online child sexual abuse in order to prevent more victims. As our children are thrust into a virtual online learning environment, here are some practical steps parents can take now:
- Set up parental control tools on all internet enabled devices including age-appropriate filters to block harmful websites, videos and images
- Regularly check the online communities your children use, such as social networking and gaming sites, to see what information they are posting
- Spend time online with your children and build an atmosphere of trust by establishing an ongoing dialogue and open lines of communication
- There are no takebacks online. Teach your children to think before they post and avoid sharing personal information and communicating with strangers
- Supervise the photos and videos your kids post and send online
- Instruct your children to avoid meeting face-to-face with someone they only know online or through their mobile device. You cannot recognize a disguised predator
- Discourage the use of webcams and mobile video devices for younger kids and guide your teens and tweens in ways to use video safely
- Disallow access to chat rooms and only allow live audio chat with extreme caution.
- Set up the family’s cyber-security protections
- Periodically check your child’s online activity by viewing your browser’s history
Everyone—parents, teachers, law enforcement and tech companies, play a vital role in mitigating online harm to children, finding our missing, and advocating for a digital world where kids are free from online sexual exploitation.
To join the movement to help us find us or to provide closure for families who are desperately searching for their missing loved ones, visit BAMFI.org. #HelpUsFindUs
About Black and Missing Foundation Inc.:
Black and Missing Foundation, Inc (BAMFI) is established as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, by a veteran law enforcement official and public relations specialist, whose mission is to bring awareness to missing persons of color; provide vital resources and tools to missing person’s families and friends; and to provide educational training on personal safety. BAMFI offers a free clearinghouse, which highlights profiles and information on missing persons of color, nationally. Profiles of missing individuals, throughout the nation, as well as news, information, and tips, can be found at BAMFI’s Web site: www.bamfi.org, IG: @blackandmissingfdn, Twitter: @BAM_FI or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bamfiorg.
Black and Missing Foundation, Inc.
Photo credit: Junior Teixeira on Pexels