BRISTOL, Va. — Denise Dew is the Internet Safety Educator at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Bristol, Virginia. She and her colleagues work with law officers and abuse victims every day. Dew said Thursday she’s seen a sharp rise in internet solicitation of children in our area. “We find that more and more of our interviews are having to deal with digital evidence,” she said.
“We’re having to talk with children about the conversations that they’ve had online and also photos that maybe were given to investigators.”She was pleased to hear Washington County, Virginia was given a “Cop-In-A-Box” by the local Moose Lodge.
The system gives internet investigators the latest tools to get through firewalls in search of online predators.”[It] allows us quicker speeds of when we do get on the internet to conduct the investigations and to build the cases”, Detective Billy Nichols tells News 5.Studies show one in seven children ages 10 to 17 will receive some type of sexual solicitation.
While law enforcement officials are doing everything they can to keep up with the predators, they say the true way to stop this kind of activity is to educate children and their parents to the dangers of the internet.
“It’s not just the kids we’re educating. We’re trying to educate everybody as to the dangers. We find that the parents know probably a lot less than the kids about the computer and about the internet,” said Mike Brown, head of the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.Brown told us most of us have no idea the depth and depravity of these predators.
He says by not educating yourself, you may be putting your kids at risk. “It is bad, it is real bad. Every child is at risk,” he said.That’s a risk police hope to reduce with the help of a Cop In the Box.