Child predators have taken on an increasing online presence, and as a result, law enforcement officials and child rights professionals are becoming more involved in preventing and dealing with crimes against children. According to Lynn Davis, chief executive officer at the US-based Dallas Children's Advocacy Center (DCAC), tech companies regularly collaborate with law enforcement officials to solve cases of child pornography and other forms of child exploitation.
During an annual conference organized by DCAC, Davis explained the process of online grooming of victims. Child predators approach vulnerable children, mostly those dealing with depression or at-risk situations, by making them feel accepted and nurtured. Next, they ask children their home address or phone number in order to attempt physical contact. In response to online criminal activities, social media companies, such as Facebook, have begun to cooperate with law enforcement officials and local police during investigations; ‘These technology companies have hired law enforcement to help run their internal systems’, said Heather Ormand, DCAC’s chief operations officer.
Moreover, Ormand recommends a series of actions that parents should undertake to prevent their children from falling victim to online predators. For example, parents should set up computers or online gaming devices in places that are easy for them to monitor, such as living rooms, and be vigilant about individuals who follow their children on social media platforms.
Parents are also advised to inform authorities or submit reports if they suspect any predators. However, Joe Laramie, a former police officer, advises that although parents should be watchful of their children’s online activities and their socializing groups, they should refrain from accessing monitoring apps that make children feel as if they are being spied on.