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Shawn Henry on Cyber Safety

Shawn Henry, Executive Assistant Director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, discusses cyber safety.


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Hi. I’m Shawn Henry, Executive Assistant Director here at the FBI. 

There are certain topics that are so disturbing that we often choose not to talk about them. The threat of pedophiles using the Internet to lure children to meet them for sex is one.

How about this for a motivator to talk about it? At any given time, there are an estimated 750,000 child predators online — and they all have a key to your house via the Internet.

A common tactic predators use is to pose as teenagers on social networking sites. They’ll start by gaining a teen’s trust by chatting about seemingly innocent topics like sports or music. Then, they begin to encourage risky behavior.

Some have used malware to remotely turn on their victims’ Web cams and microphones and secretly record them in intimate situations. Or they’ve stolen personal data and then blackmailed their victims into making sexually explicit videos in exchange for keeping their personal data private.

One of their goals is to lure a child or teen to meet them in person for
sex.

Their deceptive and detestable tactics have led innocent victims to be abducted, raped, and even murdered.

More than 940 children under the age of fifteen have been reported missing
since 2004.

What’s the FBI doing about it? Our Safe Online Surfing program teaches children about the Internet and gives them the tools they need to recognize, avoid, and report online dangers. To date, the program has educated more than 120,000 students in all 50 states.

To catch suspected child predators, FBI agents and our law enforcement partners involved in our Innocent Images initiative go undercover online and chat with them. Once we obtain evidence of criminal activity, we identify and rescue child victims and prosecute the perpetrators.

In 2010, we arrested more than a thousand individuals on charges of using a computer to distribute child pornography or sexually exploit children. We convicted more than eleven hundred last year.

But law enforcement can’t fight this problem alone. It’s up to parents to get involved. Be aware of what your kids are doing online and talk to them about it. Ask them to teach you about online language and technology. Keep computers in main areas of your house, like the kitchen—never in a child’s room. And make sure your kids know never to meet a person they meet online.
 
Parents also need to be aware that the number of devices on which children
can access the Internet is only growing as more and more teens are using smart phones, tablets, and gaming systems with Internet capabilities.

If you believe your child has been exposed to improper online contact, please report it to your local FBI office or the Cyber Tip Line at www.cybertipline.com.
 
We can do a lot to keep your kids safe online, but we can’t do it alone.

Wake up! Get involved, and talk to your kids about Internet safety. For more information, visit our website at www.fbi.gov.