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Communicating Cyber Safety

Communicating Cyber Safety


Talking to homeschoolers recently at a co-op teaching group in downtown Jacksonville, Special Agent Larry Meyer asks how many of the children are active on Facebook. Hands go up across the room. He asks how many use their full names on their profile. Only a few hands go down. When a number of hands are still raised after inquiring about who posts their home location and other personal information online, he shakes his head and says, “You guys make it too easy for them.”

Meyer works out of the FBI Jacksonville Division as part of the Violent Crimes Against Children (VCAC) program—an intelligence-driven, proactive, multi-agency investigative initiative to combat the proliferation of child pornography and child sexual exploitation worldwide. The mission of the VCAC program is to reduce the vulnerability of children to acts of sexual exploitation and abuse facilitated through the use of computers; to identify and rescue child victims; to investigate and prosecute sexual predators who use the Internet and other online services to sexually exploit children for personal or financial gain; and to strengthen the capabilities of federal, state, local, and international law enforcement through training programs and investigative assistance. From 2001 to 2012, the VCAC program has recorded approximately 10,000 indictments, 11,000 arrests, and 11,400 convictions.

One of the VCAC program’s most powerful tools is education. Our children are the most vulnerable members of society, so it’s important for parents and guardians to recognize warning signs that their children might be at risk, including the following:

  • Your child spends large amounts of time online, especially at night;
  • You find pornography on your child’s computer;
  • Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages, from someone you don’t know;
  • Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room;
  • Your child becomes withdrawn from the family; and/or
  • Your child is using an online account belonging to someone else.

More information on ways to protect your children from online predators:
- Violent Crimes Against Children webpage