As remarkable as the Internet is, the "information superhighway" holds hidden dangers for children. Just as there are good and bad places to go in any city or community, there are good and bad places to go on the Internet.
Most children do not understand the online risks, and few parents are sufficiently familiar with them and/or Internet technology to effectively guard against them. Yet, this is a problem that must be addressed, since more and more children use the Internet for safe, legitimate purposes.
This requires unprecedented collaboration and cooperation between government entities (including law enforcement agencies), the Internet industry, schools, corporations, families, and others. Broad access to quality content on the Internet must be a community priority, where all involved identify and implement appropriate solutions.
Reporting Crimes Against Children
If you have information that the Internet or a computer is being used to victimize a child, please call the Task Force at the 24-hour hotline 1-877-474-KIDS or your nearest police agency.
Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
To address these problems more effectively, a federally funded Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has been established. The Task Force, located at State Police Division Headquarters in Albany, joins the New York State Police, the New York State Attorney General's Office, and the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services in an effort to combat Internet crimes against children. Members in the investigative, legal, analytical, and community outreach fields combine their efforts in order to arrest, prosecute, educate, and ultimately prevent crimes against children that are perpetrated via the Internet.
Definition of Crimes
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 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.