CHILD SEX CRIMES SKYROCKET IN MD WITH KIDS ONLINE MORE: POLICE. Since online learning began, Maryland State Police have seen an influx of sex crimes against children. These counties are most at-risk.
December 14, 2020
ANNAPOLIS, MD — Predators have taken advantage of kids' increased screen time during the coronavirus pandemic, the Maryland State police said. Potential cases of child sexual exploitation have skyrocketed, the agency added.
Through Dec. 7, state police had received 5,433 tips notifying the agency of potential sex crimes against children. That's up from the 3,248 reported in all of 2019.
About 80 percent of this year's tips come from one of six jurisdictions. Those places are listed below with their 2019 and 2020 counts through November of each year.
"Children are often the target populations for online criminal activity," Maryland State Police said in a press release. "Parents are encouraged to monitor their children's use of all digital devices."
Tips against child exploitation are also up nationwide. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children collects these tips and forwards them to local police.
The organization clocked 18.43 million cyber tips between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30. That's up from the 11.28 million recorded over the same period last year.
Online enticement of kids has also increased during the same span. The organization has tallied 30,236 reports of online enticement this year. This is nearly double last year's count of 15,220.
Police said online enticement is the communication with a supposed child over the internet with the goal of committing a sexual offense or abducting them. This could involve sexual pictures, meetups or conversations.
"Some child traffickers adjusted to the reluctance of buyers to meet in-person to engage in commercial sex," Maryland State Police said. "Some traffickers are now offering options for subscription-based services in which buyers pay to access online images and videos of the child."
Troopers offered the following tips:
• Continuously monitor all of your child's online activity
• Be aware of who your children are communicating with online
• Talk with your children about online content
• Remind children to avoid communication with strangers
• Maintain control of apps downloaded on your child's device
• Be aware of what children see and hear and who they meet
• Know what information your child is sharing
Message from Executive Director Laura A. Ahearn: Please visit our website at www.crimevictimscenter.org for news, information and resources in your community.