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Protect your children from on-line predators

Updated December 23, 2009

The Internet has had a serious impact on the exploitation of children, specifically the distribution of sexually exploitive images of children.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, today’s computer technologies have revolutionized the distribution of these images by increasing the ease of and decreasing the cost of production and distribution. A greater number of child molesters are using computer technology not only to organize and maintain their collection of images, but also to add to and share them.

In addition, the Internet has made finding potential victims much easier. While some offenders primarily collect and trade images, others seek face-to-face interaction with children by first establishing contact on-line. Once contact is made, child molesters may use pornography to seduce their prey, to lower the victim’s inhibitions or to serve as a kind of instruction manual and convince a child that such activities are "normal."

Whether children encounter pornography accidentally while on-line or are deliberately exposed to it, viewing these images could result in devastating psychological effects.

Under federal law, it is illegal to possess, distribute or manufacture pornographic images of children. To combat this crime, undercover "sting operations" are being conducted nationally that combine the resources of both local and federal law enforcement agencies.

While these operations are effective, there is an additional component necessary to protect children from the influence of such predators. Parents should monitor the computer activities of their children at all times. Place the computer in an area where on-line activities can be easily viewed. Make a point to occasionally look over your child’s shoulder to monitor what he or she is viewing. Research and purchase software that can reveal various web sites visited and retrieve information from on-line exchanges with others.

The Cerritos Sheriff’s Station/Community Safety Center reminds parents that they are on the front line in protecting their children from on-line predators. It is essential to discuss the seriousness of these crimes with your children and the importance of having them notify you in the event that they are contacted inappropriately. If such an instance occurs, report it immediately to the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station by calling (562) 860-0044.

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