FBI: School closings due to COVID-19 could present risk of child exploitation


FILE – In this Oct. 8, 2019, file photo a woman types on a keyboard in New York. Larry Tesler, the Silicon Valley pioneer who created the now-ubiquitous computer concepts such as “cut,” “copy” and “paste,” has died. He was 74. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

RICHMOND, Va: The FBI is warning parents, educators, caregivers and children about the dangers of being online, due to the school closing from COVID-19.

The FBI of Greater Richmond says children will have increased presences online, which puts them at risk at being targeted for online sexual exploitation. The FBI says offenders could make contact with children online, gain their trust, then introduce sexual conversation to the children. The FBI says this activity may result in maintaining an online relationship that includes sexual conversation and the exchange of illicit images, to eventually physically meeting the child in-person.

Parents and guardians can take the following measures to help educate and prevent children from becoming victims of child predators and sexual exploitation during this time of national emergency:

  • 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.

For more coronavirus coverage, click here.

(AP Photo/Jenny Kane)


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