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Department Concerned About Increase in Internet Crimes Against Children During Pandemic

For Immediate Release: Monday, November 30, 2020

The Special Victims Investigations Division - Child Exploitation Unit has seen an increase in internet crimes against children during the COVID-19 pandemic.   These crimes include the sending and receiving of child pornography, sexual exploitation of children, and children being blackmailed for money after sending nude images of themselves to strangers online.

The role of the Child Exploitation Unit is to protect one of the most vulnerable populations in our community, the children.  Detectives within the Child Exploitation Unit are members of the Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. This task force involves police departments across Maryland and is comprised of investigators who focus on identifying those suspects involved in child pornography via the internet and identifying suspects involved in related crimes that victimize children.  This task force is made possible in part due to grant funds provided by the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services, and by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Investigators want to remind parents/guardians to talk to their children about safe internet usage and using social media accounts.  There are several resources available to educate adults and children on safe use of the internet through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  Parents/guardians should monitor their children's social media accounts and know the passwords so that they can periodically examine them. It is important to remember that in many cases of child exploitation, a child believes the person on the other end of the conversation is someone his/her own age, while the person is actually an adult.

Any parent/guardian who discovers that his/her child has been involved in inappropriate communication with a stranger on the internet is urged to report the communication by calling the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 and immediately preserve the conversations on the child’s electronic device (phone, computer, tablet, etc.). These incidents can also be reported online to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children here.

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Release ID: 20-476
Media Contact: Rebecca Innocenti 
Categories: public-service, public-statement, uncategorized