HERMANTOWN, Minn. – On Tuesday night, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors on the federal, state, and local levels joined together to educate parents about how predators coerce teens and kids for explicit photos and videos on social media.
The illegal practice is also known as “sextortion,” which is when a predator uses tactics such as blackmail and harassment to intimidate their victims into sending them child pornography of themselves.
The panel of experts explained that child predators will create aliases to trick kids and teens that they are someone they’re not on social media.
71% of sextortion victims are young girls, and one in four victims are 12 years-old or younger.
For teens, the emotional part of of their brains develops much fast faster than the rational, decision-making side.
That’s why it’s important for parents to talk to their children about Internet safety.
“Kids need to understand when they exchange photos, inappropriate photos, naked photos, they’re going to be there forever,” St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin explained. “And it’s going to be used against them. And they’ve got to be aware of that and it’s just, you have to be that careful and they’ve got to be a little smarter in that regard.”
In the Twin Ports, there is an Internet Crimes Against Children task force made up of local law enforcement agencies on both sides of the bridge.
The task force that tracks down child pornography catches predators with the IP addresses on their computers.
“About 70 to 80% of people who are exchanging child pornography at some point will actually harm a child.” Duluth Chief of Police Mike Tusken said. “And so it’s very important to intercede and have intervention in people who are exchanging child pornography because ultimately they are more apt to harm a child.”
We will have more on this story on Thursday night at 9, including interviews with federal prosecutors about how they are fighting to protect children from becoming victims.