The following story is from my upcoming book, Cyber Curiosity: A Beginner’s Guide to Cybersecurity – How to Protect Yourself in the Modern World.
Every year, millions of children are targeted by predators. Over 25 percent of minors receive sexual messages from adults on the Internet each year. In 2020, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) Cyber-Tipline, the United States’ centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children, received over 21.7 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation, the highest number of annual reports ever. These statistics represent a real and growing threat to the safety and well-being of our children. This threat is often forgotten, overlooked, or underestimated by our society, which can leave children vulnerable to becoming a victim of sex trafficking or exploitation for child pornography.
This is a fact that Attorney General Andy Beshear of Kentucky knows too well. In early 2018, Beshear’s Cybercrimes Unit began an investigation into Ernest Anziana, after they discovered he was attempting to solicit sex from an underage girl in Kentucky.
Anziana was a forty-nine-year-old man living in Fredonia, Kansas. He allegedly offered $500 and seven grams of meth to purchase the young girl.
“The details involved in this case are disturbing, yet our office encounters human trafficking cases in every county, city, and community across Kentucky,” Attorney General Beshear stated. “Human trafficking represents the worst form of abuse, most often in children, as we have in this case. Every part of my office is committed to investigating and prosecuting predators seeking to harm our children and families.”
Anziana was served with an indictment warrant on February 7, 2018. He was extradited to Kentucky, where he was sentenced to five years in prison and designated as a lifetime sex offender.
The Internet has unfortunately become a breeding ground for sex trafficking and child exploitation. Stranger danger no longer only applies to people you meet in person.
According to the NCMEC, online enticement involves “an individual communicating with someone believed to be a child via the internet with the intent to commit a sexual offense or abduction.”
Online enticement is a broad category of online exploitation of children, “including sextortion, in which a child is being groomed to take sexually explicit images and/or ultimately meet face-to-face with someone for sexual purposes, or to engage in a sexual conversation online or, in some instances, to sell/trade the child’s sexual images,” according to the NCMEC website. This type of cybercrime takes place on every platform, from social media, messaging applications, gaming platforms, etc.
This is why it is more important than ever to teach your child the principles of cyber safety. It is never too early to start. Many cybersecurity tips for children can be derived from safety tips that we teach our children to look out for in the physical world.
These are a few simple tips for ways to teach your children the important of cyberawareness. Make sure that your child knows that they won’t get in trouble for telling you something they’ve done online, or they will be less open and honest with you.
Over the next several weeks, I’m going to be sharing excerpts and stories from my book, Cyber Curiosity: A Beginner’s Guide to Cybersecurity – How to Protect Yourself in the Modern World in this article series. Here is the link to get your copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble! The eBook is 0.99 cents only for the month of May, so get your digital copy today and start reading immediately.
If you want to take your first step to being cyberaware, pick up my FREE Beginner’s Guide to Recognizing Malicious Messages Online.