In the military you’re used to fighting bad guys. What should you do when you’re deployed, and while you’re family is at home? The Internet has allowed communication between people to be easier than ever. No longer are people limited by geographic borders of mountains and seas. With the technological creation of software applications that use webcams, computers that provide the ability to instant message anyone using their obscene pictures and having access to multiple e-mail accounts, the ability for criminals to connect with strangers all over the world has become quicker, simpler and more organized.
Letter writing via paper and pen isn’t solely a good, romantic tool any longer; the victim is showered with e-cards, videos and emoticons and possibly fake photographs representing who they are by the criminal until the victim’s trust is gained. One thing about internet crime is clear here, it has become more sinister. The ‘prey’ is exploited by criminals who no longer have to go solo when they commit a crime.
Criminals who once worked in pairs or with a gang now have the ability to meet and share their perspective with people on a national and international level and they can potentially connect to cohorts numbering in the hundreds or perhaps thousands of deviants. One criminal could affect tens of thousands with one lewd, photo-‘bomb’ infecting recipients emails; victimization is unwanted and criminals don’t care how many they affect. At one time proximity was the key for a criminal to get their hands on a victim. The internet has given criminals a cloak of invisibility for a moment; proxy servers, fake user accounts, web cafes and false identities allow this to occur and the public is trying to fight back.
There are many kinds of cyber crime. The general characteristics of the criminal and victim have never changed but the method in which criminals operate has become very inventive and far reaching. The more notable types of sex crimes are those such as prostitution, sex tourism and pornographic production, manufacturing and distribution occur with immediacy through computer use. Before cities became involved with zoning businesses outside of school districts, and moving ‘seedy’ institutions away from centrally-located, urban landscapes, solicitors could frequent brothels.
Pornography was reserved for magazines sold in gasoline stations or purchased from the mail. The internet has brought these salacious types of human interest into the forefront to where even children have access when they should not. The internet has given access to purveyors and sellers of this type of content via Craigslist, Social Networking sites and Chat-rooms, to name a few methods of connection. Solicitors no longer have to travel to see a prostitute because the prostitute can come to them via web cam and by online business transactions. This is not to say the person involved in sex-for-sale is doing it willingly for they are most often the victim of exploitation.
Sex tourism was once unheard of and this woeful exploitation of foreign nationals from lesser developed nations continues on in the 21st century despite the belief that man has become “more” moral and intelligent; depravity is blind to evolution. The internet has given quick access to those searching for methods of exploitation, a plethora of options for those willing to partake, anonymity to criminals who don’t want to be found, and invisibility to the kidnapped who need to be discovered.
Knowing this information, what are you doing to protect your family from being victimized? Let’s go deeper into this before we formulate a plan.
Victimization has many layers of abuse, ranging at the high-mark from outright stalking and murder and down the range to simple ‘trolling’, whereby the initiator submits a very provocative posting in order to get a response and injure any who reads the post. Internet sex predators, online child pornographers, cyber bullies and stalkers are some of the more repulsive types for they lack the compassionate qualities that binds most of society together by means of respect for others and their feelings.
Sex offenders look to victimize in any way they can and the Internet is a conduit for their fantasies to connect with lonely or clueless persons. The state of New Jersey is one of the firsts states, since 2007, to enact legislation banning some convicted sex offenders from using the Internet. Currently there are no federal laws restricting sex offender’s use. Under the law the State Parole Board must be informed by sex offenders about computer access and must submit to unannounced visits and the installing of equipment monitoring devices. (NY Times, 2007). Stalking is being combated by stalking legislation and all 50 states have anti-stalking statutes. Many law enforcement agencies now have computer crime units but many agencies are ill-prepared due to a lack of resources, tools and personnel who are trained.
The content and context of what obscenity is has been debated for a long time. Freedom of speech must exist in this country under our Second Amendment, however, those who seek to profit from pornography must have some type of regulation. The federal government has made attempts to be clear and not vague when it comes to content of an objectionable nature, specifically content with children. Free speech activism and government regulation collide at times but it is certain that obscenity in the forms of pornography, hardcore and bizarre obscene material will be challenged in the court systems. The United States Department of Justice has a Child exploitation and obscenity guideline online for citizens to determine whether material meets the Supreme Court’s test that judges and juries use.(DoJ, 2013).
Some of the traditional, non-digital crimes now being deployed on the Internet are bullying, prostitution, child exploitation, human trafficking and sexual solicitation. Statistics on these abuses are high, for example, 82% of online sex crimes against minors used social networking sites to gain information on the child. 1 in 7 children receive online solicitation. (Internet Safety 101, 2013). Phishing attacks are used against persons wanting access to specific websites, viruses infect computers via the photo-sharing programs available to download web-content and ransomware hold victims’ computers hostage in order to exploit the victims sexual curiosity; purveyors of sexual content get their comeuppance (FBI, 2013). Cyberspace offers anonymity but in the future the Internet map will be changed because law enforcement and the justice system will have road blocks ahead to stop abusers intent on exploiting the open spaces on the World Wide Web that are unmonitored. It will not be an easy process, nor a final one but it may just catch the worst offenders and send a message to those thinking about getting started down this road.
So now what? There are a lot of very helpful websites online, blogs and businesses that provide great resources to help address this matter. Here are some reminders:
- Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your child’s bedroom. I
- Communicate, and talk to your child about sexual victimization and potential on-line danger.
- Spend time with your children on-line. Have them teach you about their favorite on-line destinations.
- Keep the Internet-connected computer in a common area of the house, not in kids’ rooms and try to sit with kids when online.
- Keep kids’ email accounts accessible, requiring young kids to use a family email account, and requiring older kids to give you their passwords.
- Talk to kids and teens about online and offline predators and dangers.
- Use family safety settings.
- Follow age limits on social networking sites and monitor public settings.
Be your family’s shield.
the New York Times. Sex Offenders are barred from Internet by New Jersey. November 13, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/28/nyregion/28offender.html
the United States Department of Justice. Child Exploitation & Obscenity Section. November 13, 2013. http://www.justice.gov/criminal/ceos/citizensguide/citizensguide_obscenity.html
Internet Safety 101. Predator Statistics. November 13, 2013. Retrieved fromhttp://www.internetsafety101.org/Predatorstatistics.htm
the Federal Bureau of Investigation. New E-Scams and Warnings. November 13, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/e-scams
Taylor, R. W, Fritsch, E. J. (2011a). Digital Crime and Digital Terrorism. Second Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies.