Predators 101:

An Introduction

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When children go online, they have direct and immediate access to friends, family, and complete strangers, which can put unsuspecting children at great risk. Children who meet and communicate with strangers online are easy prey for Internet predators. Predators have easy and anonymous access to children online where they can conceal their identity and roam without limit. Often, we have an image of sexual predators lurking around school playgrounds or hiding behind bushes scoping out their potential victims, but the reality is that today’s sexual predators search for victims while hiding behind a computer screen, taking advantage of the anonymity the Internet offers.

"People who do not believe that their children could ever become victimized online are living in an unrealistic world. Regardless of if your child makes 'As' or not, that child has the potential to become victimized through online technologies. I think it is very important for parents of all socioeconomic status and with all different roles in society to take this problem very seriously."

—Melissa Morrow, Supervisory Special Agent, Child Exploitation Squad, FBI

Child Sexual Abuse: Putting the Problem in Context

  • Research indicates that about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys experience child sexual abuse at some point in childhood.  91% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the child or child’s family knows.  (Center for Disease Control, accessed 2-18-21)

In the Internet age, offline sex abuse is fueled by pedophiles' unprecedented access to child pornography and exacerbated as perpetrators post pictures online of their exploits:

In 2018, tech companies reported over 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused — more than double what they found the previous year.

  • In 1998, there were over 3,000 reports of child sexual abuse imagery.
  • Just over a decade later, yearly reports soared past 100,000.
  • In 2014, that number surpassed 1 million for the first time.
  • In 2018, there were 18.4 million, more than one-third of the total ever reported.
  • Despite landmark legislation past in 2008 to reign in the scourge (which has gone largely underfunded) the explosion in detected content kept growing — exponentially. (New York Times, Sept. 30, 2019)