What are the Crimes?

An image of the Internet Crimes Against Children logo.

What is a Child?

New York State law defines a child as an individual 16 years or younger.

The following crimes often involve the use of computers or the Internet. It is these crime we would like you to report.

Disseminating Indecent Materials to Minors

Pedophiles have learned to use the Internet to entice, invite or persuade children to meet them for sexual acts, and to help arrange such meetings. Chat rooms, which are rapidly becoming one of the most popular online activities for children, also give pedophiles easy access to children. A pedophile who cannot enter a school disguised as a child, can easily pretend to be one in an online chat room. Without revealing his or her identity, a pedophile, posing as a teenager, can lure a child or a teenager into a physical meeting for sexual purposes.

In the perceived safety of the home, a child's natural trust may lead him or her to forget the people they meet on-line are strangers and should not be trusted.

Sexual Performance by a Child

Child pornography is a crime defined by New York State law as the "visual depiction of a child engaged in sexual conduct."

A child who legally cannot browse through a sexually explicit magazine in a store can easily access sexually explicit images online. With little effort, he or she can easily find, or receive, obscene materials in online publications, some of which would be illegal even for adults to possess in the United States.

The growth of the Internet has provided child pornographers with a powerful and largely anonymous distribution vehicle, which pedophiles can use to desensitize their victims. Children may be exposed to this material intentionally or unintentionally, and receive unsolicited links to adult sites.

Additionally, child pornography often is linked directly to operators of child-prostitution rings. Some purveyors of child pornography provide pedophiles and sex-tour operators with names of youths with whom they are in on-line contact and may be available for illicit sex.

Endangering the Welfare of a Child

The Internet is sometimes used to advertise child prostitutes to potential customers. These youths are often sexually exploited by adults who encourage or force them into prostitution. Some adults are "pimps" who demand that the child provide sex for money, then take the earnings. Others help youthful prostitutes by soliciting business for them or transporting the child to another state.

Sex tourism, defined as travel to foreign countries in pursuit of sex, is another underground industry which is flourishing by means of its links to computers and the Internet. Glossy computer-generated brochures and Internet Web sites advertise package tours for travelers, complete with air fare, hotel accommodations and directions to brothels.

In addition to transacting such illegal business through the Internet, many purveyors and facilitators of child prostitution record and store details of their illicit activities in computer files for later reference and trade with others.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse of a child often involves the use of a computer or the Internet.

Persons who commit such crimes have been known to use computer-saved or generated pornographic images to aid in breaking down the inhibitions of their child victims, and to save recorded images of their child sexual abuse activities.

A child may inform you via the Internet that he or she is being abused.