Internet Predators are Real

I meant to write about this last week, but ran out of time on Friday. For all those that say fears are overblown, I submit the following four stories from Wednesday and Thursday of last week. These are abridged versions of the stories; you can click the links for the full monty:

  • Ohio Cops Help Nab Suspected Predator
    DETROIT (AP) – Police from a small Ohio town have helped Wayne County authorities arrest a Detroit man on child pornography charges. Jeffrey Burt Vandeveer has been arraigned Wednesday on eight felony counts, including distribution of child sexually abusive material and dissemination of sexually explicit material to a minor. An undercover New Waterford officer posing as a young girl over the Internet had received sexually explicit chats and an explicit image of minors engaged in sex.

  • Accused ‘Web predators’ from Bucks, Chesco jailed
    Two Philadelphia-area men identified as “Web predators” were arrested Tuesday, the state Attorney General’s Office announced yesterday. Francis J. Smith, 62, of Bensalem, and Bobby W. Mundell, 32, of Coatesville, both initiated communication in online chat rooms with what they thought were 14-year-old girls but who were actually undercover agents, a news release said. Both men also sent sexually explicit Webcam videos to the agents. Smith was arraigned on charges that include unlawful contact with a minor and criminal use of a computer; he was remanded to Bucks County Correctional Facility after failing to post $500,000 bail. Mundell, arraigned on similar charges, was taken to Chester County Prison with bail set at $75,000. The release said the arrests were made by the Child Predator Unit, created in 2005 to capture Internet predators before they can harm children. To date, the unit has made 132 arrests, including 64 over the last 12 months, the release said.

  • Child predators
    A Harrisburg man is the latest in a growing number of men to be arrested while trying to solicit sex from teenagers online. According to the State Attorney General’s Office, last October, James Stambaugh started an online conversation with a 14-year-old girl. Investigators then say the conversation allegedly turned very sexual, very quickly. When Stambaugh went to teach the teen her [sex] lesson last month, he got one himself. Instead of a teenage girl, he met officers from the Swatara Township Police Department, working with detectives from the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit – who have netted four arrests in recent weeks, and 132 in a little over three years. The Attorney General’s Press Secretary calls James Stambaugh a “traveler”, someone who will travel to meet up with a child; the type of suspect who can be the most dangerous.

The fourth story isn’t a predator caught, but does back-up the importance of knowing what your child does online:

  • Little Elm police investigate whether 14-year-old accessed child porn
    Little Elm police were investigating whether a 14-year-old boy accessed child pornography on his home computer. The undercover Internet investigation, which originated in Illinois, resulted in a search warrant for two computers at the teen’s home, said Little Elm police Det. Oscar Hinojosa. The investigation was continuing and no charges have been filed against the teen, police said. “It might have been an accident,” Det. Hinojosa said. “He could have been looking for regular porn.”

I posted the first three stories to show the skeptics that predators are in fact out there and getting caught all the time – which is both good news and a reminder. The last story is just another reminder to be aware of what your kids are doing. Whether or not the parents were fine with the 14-year-old looking for porn, if he happens to view images of people his own age involved in the acts – that is child pornography!

Knowledge is power. Be a powerful 21st century parent with PC Pandora monitoring software… protect your kids from Internet predators – and themselves!

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