Experts share how to protect children from the growing number of internet crimes

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The coronavirus pandemic is forcing many children out of classrooms and into online learning. 

Early in the pandemic, experts feared children would face more internet predators — especially as kids were in remote learning. They say, unfortunately, their fears came true. The number of online crime investigations in 2020 was more than double of those in 2019. 

Human trafficking takes many forms. Many times, predators find their victims online. Pam Strickland with North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking said the number of crimes against children is growing, especially on the internet. Predators know how to find kids, but parents may not know how vulnerable the web makes their children.

Strickland says the first defense is parents monitoring kids’ web access.

“No device that has online capabilities should be in the child’s room overnight, for young children definitely there should be limits on how much time they can spend online, and you may want to limit their online usage to a common family room all the time,” Strickland said.

The coalition is having a webinar sharing tips for keeping kids safe online. The community outreach coordinator, Melinda Sampson, is going to lead that on Jan. 27 at 3 p.m. Click here to register. 

Another defense is adults sitting down with their kids and talking about the dangers. The conversations won’t be easy, so parents and caretakers should show compassion and understanding.

The Pitt County Coalition Against Human Trafficking is inviting everyone to its January meeting for Human Trafficking Awareness Month. On Thursday, Jan. 21, at 9:30 a.m., PCCAHT will convene virtually with guest speaker Tiffany Pate, senior analyst at the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation – Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, who will unpack the alarming 2020 numbers and how these cases are investigated.

To attend this meeting, go to pccaht.org/2021meetingminutes

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