Internet predators are on the rise, says Attorney General Tom Corbett. 

Internet predators are on the rise, says Attorney General Tom Corbett. 

“Time and distance mean nothing to Internet predators because computer technology allows them to reach across the street, or across the country, to ‘groom’ young victims for sexual meetings or to flood their computers with explicit webcam videos, sexually graphic pictures or illegal child pornography.

“The number of predators we have been able to identify and arrest has been growing rapidly, and it is vital that parents and children understand this threat,” he said in a recent press release.
Wayne County District Attorney Mike Lehutsky said the Internet is a wonderful tool, but “it’s also a gateway to bring the best and the worst right into your house. Unfortunately, in today’s society, we are seeing more and more of this. They call them Internet predators because their actions are predatory.”

Praying on insecurities
DA Lehutsky says online predators prey on children’s fears and insecurities.  For example, a child might feel unattractive or misunderstood by their parents. A predator would use that to their advantage, Lehutsky said. “The goal here is to convince the child, ‘I’m on your side and you need to be with me.’” It’s all part of “grooming” the child, gaining their trust, working up to a one-on-one meeting, he said.

“Parents need to keep in mind, when it comes to shielding their children from these types of people, they really are the first line of defense. They need to make sure they monitor their kids activities online.”

Both DA Lehutsky and Pike County DA Raymond J. Tonkin say computers need to be placed in an open-area of the house so parents can see what’s on the screen. A child’s bedroom is one of the worst places for a computer, Lehutsky said.

Internet safety tips
Attorney General Corbett encourages parents to talk to their kids about what sites they use, about not giving out personal information: addresses, schools, names or other identifying details, and avoiding strangers online. He also encourages them to report anyone who attempts to send them graphic photos or videos.

Additional safety tips are available at the attorney general’s website: under the “Operation Safe Surf” and “Just for Kids” sections.

To report a suspected Internet predator, go to the attorney general’s website and click on “report a predator” link; or call the Child Predator Hotline at 1-800-385-1044.