As part of National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, members of the DRPS Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit gave an overview of Internet safety and the perils of the online world to a large group at Regional Headquarters Thursday night.
Sponsored by Victim Services of Durham Region, the two-hour presentation was led by Det. Randy Norton who explained child pornorgraphy laws and how police services are working together to combat the problems of luring and sexual exploitation online.
When officers from DRPS Sexual Assault Unit (SAU) demonstrated, online and in real time, how long it took for grown men to start a conversation with a fictional 15-year-old girl in a chat room, parents were shocked at how quickly it took place.
It only takes a few seconds for men – complete strangers – to strike up a conversation with the fictitous young girl. These men, many of whom identified themselves as 25 year-olds (but who knows?), asked her if she had a web camera so they could see what she looked like. They asked her where she lived. They sent links that could lead to potentially pornographic pictures of themselves.
Sixty nine per cent of teens get personal messages online from people they don’t know and they tend not to trust or tell adults about this fact.
It was one of many shocks for parents, caregivers and even some teenagers who attended the seminar.
Another shock: How easy it was to infiltrate a Facebook page, acquire personal information about a young female and then Google Map an aerial photograph of her actual residence. Many in the crowd were shocked to hear that the exact location of where an image was taken is embedded in most photos posted on websites.
The key pieces of advice from officers of the SAU as the informative evening wrapped up:
* Talk to your kids – have a frank and open discussion without yelling or raising your voice. Get involved in their online habits and keep Internet-capable computers in central, busy rooms of the house
* Log the chats your children are involved in, so there is a record of bullying, threatening and other criminal acts
* If a boyfriend receives a compromising photo of his 14-year-old girlfriend and passes it to another friend, he could be charged criminally with possession and distribution of child pornography
* Some employers now ask job applicants to open their social media pages to determine if they are suitable employees
* GPS co-ordinates are embedded in some pictures online and can be opened to determine the location of where the picture was taken. It can identify where you live.
* Once a compromising photograph is posted online and shared, there really is no way to get it back. It will live on servers around the world forever.
The investigators also left parents with a host of on line resources available to learn more about the potential perils of the Internet:
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Det. Norton Led the Discussion (JPG file, 128.4K bytes)