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Online child predator numbers skyrocket during pandemic

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Posted at 5:22 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 18:32:27-04

CANTON, Ohio — Since the pandemic started, a troubling trend has emerged. There has been an uptick in reports of online enticement of children to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Calls to their CyberTipline have skyrocketed up 97.5% from the previous year.

“There has never been a decrease. It’s a daily thing that never stops,” said Det. Bryan Allen, who is part of the FBI’s Canton Resident Agency’s Child Exploitation Task Force.

Some of the tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are coming from our area.

“The number of tips coming from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has increased and those tips are flowing into us all the time, “said Allen.

Behind the keyboard, Allen is a 14-year-old child, working to protect children from what he sees.

It takes just minutes for a potential child predator to start chatting with him, talking about sex, thinking he is a child.

“It’s amazing the things these individuals will say to who they think is a child,” said FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson.

Authorities said every single day predators are online or social media chatting and working to gain the trust of vulnerable children.

“We’ve arrested police officers, we’ve arrested train engineers, we’ve arrested softball coaches, they’re from every walk of life,” said Allen.

“We make sure the windows are locked, the doors are locked, and we hand our child a phone,” said Anderson.

That puts the world at your child’s fingertips.

“You need to recognize you’re opening the whole world to your child and that includes predators,” added Anderson.

Authorities said to be a nosey parent, look at your child’s phone, know who they are talking to and what apps are on their phone.

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