In the NBC series “To Catch a Predator” Chris Hansen opened our eyes to the prevalence of internet crimes against children.
And while Dateline raised our awareness even Chris Hansen feels it did little to reduce the danger.
These guys are not going to go away.
They get these addictions and compulsions.
They get caught up in the chat rooms, then the porn sites and the next thing you know they blur this line between fantasy and reality.
It’s a line blurred by many of the men represented by these red dots.
Each mark indicates where a child sex offender lives in the Twin Ports…
This guy lives on Ogden Avenue he was convicted of first degree sexual assault of a child.
So was this guy, living on Tower Avenue.
This guy on 20th West and Superior Street, sexually assaulted girls between 8 and 15 and this guy living on Wellington Street in Duluth forced a teenager into sexual acts.
Everyone of these red dots indicates a predator who was convicted of sexually abusing a Northland child.
“You think that stuff doesn’t happen here…that it happens in California and New York and Texas and California… We actually see quite a bit of it.”
Take for instance the Chris Dallum case. The Superior man was busted for sexually assaulting a child.
He was probably 32 and the sexual relations started when she was 14 or 15.
The two communicated through MySpace and instant messenger.
During the investigation authorities uncovered hundreds of images of graphic child pornography on Dallum’s computer.
Then there was the case of former Douglas County jail guard Jeff Luckenbill.
He was busted for having sex with a 14-year old girl he met over the internet.
That investigation turned up an extensive cyber relationship with other pedophiles and requests from Luckenbill for advice on how best to groom other children.
How can I make her feel comfortable with me touching her so that she doesn’t tell anybody.
And these people would coach him and give him ideas.
In the course of that investigation we identified 136 pedophile friends of his, all of whom had admitted to molesting their own kids.
“I think that it’s been an explosion of attacks on our children.”
Superior Police Chief Floyd Peters sees it as such a big problem that he has created an elite squad within his department to track and pursue internet crimes against children.
Sgt. Nicholas Alexander and Detective Tom Champagne lead that squad.
“Our police department I think is ahead of most of the agencies in our area, or North of the Twin Cities.”
They are a new breed of officer with math, science and computer degrees.
Skills they need in the cyber crime world.
But there are so many online predators stalking children that no police department can keep up.
“We have to triage just like a doctor does and cases that there isn’t a true victim that we know of may get pushed aside and pushed back for awhile.”
In fact police say there are so many predators stalking children online that no authorities can keep up.
They say the safety of our children on the internet at this point must fall to parents.
The over-worked cyber-sex detectives make time whenever possible to teach parents the dangers kids face online and how best to keep them safe.
This meeting in Duluth left many parents stunned with what their children could be facing online.
Wednesday Barbara will take us to one of these meetings where cyber kid stalkers crawled out of the woodwork before our very eyeys.
ONLINE SAFETY TIPS
1) ESTABLISH RULES FOR INTERNET USE
– What sites can your child visit?
– Who can they talk to?
2) KEEP THE COMPUTER IN A COMMON ROOM (NOT A CHILD’S BEDROOM)
3) DISCUSS THE IMPORTANCE OF TELLING YOU OR A TRUSTED ADULT IF SOMETHING EVER MAKES YOUR CHILD FEEL SCARED, UNCOMFORTABLE OR CONFUSED WHILE ONLINE
5) BE INFORMED
– Learn everything you can about the internet
– Ask your kids to show you places they go
6) CONSIDER SAFEGUARDING OPTIONS
– Check out blocking filtering and rating applications
CYBER TIP LINE
1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com
“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”