According to DA Melinda Katz, predators are aware that children are home during the day as residents shelter-in-place and may use this time to attempt to contact them and lure them into inappropriate situations.
By Forum Staff
The Queens District Attorney’s Office over the past two months has seen an increase in the number of complaints regarding improper behavior towards teenagers and preteens on the internet, DA Melinda Katz noted Thursday, adding that several of the reports have involved strangers seeking inappropriate pictures of the teens.
Katz also pointed out that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has observed a rise in the number of reports involving child sexual abuse material on the internet over the same time period.
“The spread of the coronavirus has brought new challenges and responsibilities to all the parents and guardians in Queens County. With schools closed many teens and preteens are finding more time to explore the internet on computers and phones. Teens are naturally curious about everything including their sexuality and in this very difficult time may find themselves, through no fault of their own, in compromising positions online,” Katz said.
According to Queens’ prosecutor, predators are aware that children are home during the day and may use this time to attempt to contact them and lure them into inappropriate situations. NCMEC offers free digital resources through Netsmartz.org regarding online safety for children and parents.
If your child becomes a victim of an online predator, you should save whatever evidence you have, including pictures, and take screenshots of messages and contact information of the predator, Katz added. You should report it to your local precinct or call (646) 610-7272.