UNITED STATES—The Los Angeles Police Department indicated on May 23, alongside other police departments around the country have seen an increase in reports of children being sexually exploited online during the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) stated in a blog about online safety posted on March 26 that with COVID-19 forcing families to stay at home, children are more at risk:
“As many of us are now trying to work from home, the reality is that our children are spending more time online and much of it may be unsupervised.”
The NCMEC did a study back in 2018, gaining insight on the statistics behind the reports. In the study it states girls belong in the “overwhelming majority” and that prepubescent children are at the greatest risk.
The LAPD offers resources on how to protect children from online dangers through their Child Protection division stating:
“The Sexually Exploited Child Unit interacts with outside agencies for purposes of investigation, prosecution, and training on matters of child exploitation and child pornography.”
Additional tips offered by the Los Angeles Police Department for parents to aid in the safety of their children including choosing online platforms that have parental controls, block inappropriate material through service providers and be familiar with the platforms children use the most.
If a child comes forward or someone notices signs of child sex abuse, reports can be made via the Cybertipline, an online source that receives reports globally. In 2019, Cybertipline received 16.9 million reports, of which over 500 thousand cases belonged to the U.S.