There has been a 106% increase in CyberTipline reports of suspected child sexual exploitation from March 2019 to March 2020. In March of last year, statistics show there were 983,784 reports, and this year in the same month, there were 2,027,520 reports of child exploitation.
The CyberTipline is used by law enforcement and major tech companies like Google, Facebook and other social media platforms. Tech companies use Cybertipline to report child exploitation images and videos found on their site and apps to the correct police agency.
Forbes is reporting on the link between the sudden spike in child exploitation and the coronavirus pandemic.
“Due to the confinement and the fact that now, everybody, including our children, are spending more time online means there is increasing exposure to these operators who are looking for opportunities to engage with them and to contact them,” Acting Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Center Fernando Ruiz told Forbes.
Current and former police offers told Forbes they’d see a sharp increase in child abuse, both online and offline.
With schools closed across the country, students are spending more time in their house. “We’ve seen a very significant rise because, if we think about it, for some children, we are locking them in the house. With the person who’s victimized, their only escape is outside the house,” one anonymous officer told Forbes.
However, a spokesperson for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) told Forbes the spike may not be because more kids are home and online, but that more adults are online and able to report inappropriate content.
NCMEC cited a specific incident, “A significant factor contributing to the dramatic increase are several child sexual abuse videos that went ‘viral’ in recent weeks,” the spokesperson added. “In one case, the video was widely shared because people were outraged and trying to help identify and rescue the victim.”
PBS spoke with Lt. Christina Sheppard of the Colorado Springs Police Department, who supervises the state’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force about how parents can protect their children and online safety facts.
“Parents should know what their children are doing online, and I know that sounds kinda easy,” Sheppard said. “But a lot of times we get busy and we’re not necessarily paying attention.”