Internet predators are a growing threat to society, and police are fighting back to keep them away from children.
What are Internet predators?
Internet predators are those who find their victims on the Internet, usually in chat rooms, dating sites, or popular social networking sites like Myspace. The Internet is a popular hangout for predators, because it allows them to be fairly anonymous. They can make up profiles, post pictures, and tell people that they are someone they’re not.
One common way Internet predators lure their victims is by posing as teenagers themselves. For example, if a predator is going after a younger girl, he might pretend he is that girl’s same age. Predators are very good at talking like teenagers and know popular hangouts, hobbies, and other interests of teens. They talk the teen into meeting up with them someplace, and then end up molesting the teen, or worse.
Internet predators may also try and have sexually explicit conversations with teens and kids. They may send lewd pictures, and encourage the teens to do the same.
What police are doing to stop Internet predators
Because Internet predators are becoming so prevalent, police are taking a number of steps to stop them. Some common tactics police use to stop Internet predators include:
Posing as victims
One way police can stop Internet predators is by posing as teenagers themselves and agreeing to meet up with suspected Internet predators. Because there are certain laws, they can’t go after anyone they suspect is a predator unless they give them reason to do so. Police have to make sure the predators know they were speaking with a minor (which was actually the undercover police officer) and have to have something to arrest them for, such as propositioning sex or sending sexually explicit material through email or another means.
Like the predators themselves, police have to learn how to talk like teenagers and know where they hang out online in order to be believable. This includes knowing how to type online like a teen, using common slang, and so forth.
If an online predator propositions sex, the undercover officer will agree to meet with him at a specified location. There, the predator is arrested.
Forming special units
Because Internet predators are becoming such a threat, police departments across the nation are forming special units specifically for finding and catching Internet predators. Also called Cyber Crime Units and Child Exploitation Units, among other names, the police in these units help to catch online predators by searching for them on chat sites and posing as teenagers, providing assistance with convictions, and also by educating the public on the dangers of Internet predators and what to look out for.
Teaching the community
One of the biggest focuses of Cyber Crime Units involves educating the public about Internet predators. Many parents are oblivious to their children’s online activities. Even kids themselves don’t know they are conversing with predators. The crime units help parents and teachers know what to look out for by setting up special websites, visiting schools, and speaking at community functions. By better educating the public, the public can help police catch Internet predators by reporting suspicious behavior and preventing attacks before they occur.
Internet predators are dangerous, and they are also growing in numbers. Fortunately, there are many things the police do to help fight these online predators.