Author unveils world of predators

As police crack down on child porn rings, online social networks offer personal information that makes it easier to lure children, said an author who studied the crime.

An estimated 60% of teens have a personal website listing their birthday, hometown, hobbies or other sensitive information that can help sexual predators exploit them, said Julian Sher, author of One Child at a Time: Inside the Fight to Rescue Children from Online Predators.

“No teen would talk to a stranger on the street but how many have online buddies, with no idea what their real identity is?” said Sher. “Your online buddies should be only people you know in the real world.”

Beyond Borders, an agency that lobbies against child sexual exploitation, said the problem is all too common.

“We know one child in five has been approached on the Internet for sexual activity,” said Roz Prober, president of Beyond Borders’ Winnipeg chapter. Prober said the justice system doesn’t give harsh enough sentences to those convicted of exploiting children online. Sentences for Internet-linked child porn convictions in Winnipeg varied over this year. But the penalties often included house arrest or jail terms of less than one year, including the following:

– Nov. 1: Shawn David Ramesar was sentenced to nine months in jail for one count of Internet luring after he was convicted of having explicit sexual chats with a volunteer posing as a 13-year-old girl.

– Oct. 10: Richard Ainley was sentenced to 90 days in jail, to be served on weekends, after police found a handful of child porn pictures on his computer.

– Aug. 30: The Manitoba Court of Appeal upholds a house arrest sentence of 18 months for Timothy Kozun, a man convicted of trading violent child pornography images around the world. Some of the 3,500 images depicted the rape and torture of children as young as five years old.

– Feb. 28: Lyle Dick received two years supervised probation for possessing child pornography. The sentence came after the judge heard Dick once served two years in a Los Angeles prison for the same charge. “The sentences are inadequate and therefore the message to the public of deterrence and denunciation is not happening,” said Prober. “You can’t denounce a crime with house arrest.”

But Sher notes police have made considerable gains in finding and charging online predators.

He said specialized police squads and a global police database that allows officers to share tips in these cases have helped nab more predators.

“I think there is a chipping away at the arrogance predators once had,” said Sher. “They used to believe they were invincible, that the police couldn’t catch them.”

Published in: on November 19, 2007 at 4:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

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