FBI: School closings due to COVID-19 pose potential risk for increased child exploitation

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(WJHL) — Due to school closings because of COVID-19, the FBI is wanting people to be aware that children will have a possible increased online presence and that could cause an inadvertent risk.

The FBI is now warning parents, educators, caregivers and children about the dangers of online sexual exploitation and child abuse.

They’re offering the following recommendations for the public to keep an eye out on.

Online Child Exploitation

  • Discuss Internet safety with children of all ages when they engage in online activity.
  • Review and approve games and apps before they are downloaded.
  • Make sure privacy settings are set to the strictest level possible for online gaming systems and electronic devices.
  • Monitor your children’s use of the Internet; keep electronic devices in an open, common room of the house.
  • Check your children’s profiles and what they post online.
  • Explain to your children that images posted online will be permanently on the Internet.
  • Make sure children know that anyone who asks a child to engage in sexually explicit activity online should be reported to a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult and law enforcement.
  • Remember that victims should not be afraid to tell law enforcement if they are being sexually exploited. It is not a crime for a child to send sexually explicit images to someone if they are compelled or coerced to do so.

Child Abuse Awareness

  • Teach your children about body safety and boundaries.
  • Encourage your children to have open communication with you.
  • Be mindful of who is watching your child for childcare/babysitting, playdates and overnight visits.
  • If your child discloses abuse, immediately contact local law enforcement for assistance.
  • Children experiencing hands-on abuse may exhibit withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, anxiety, depression, not wanting to be left alone with a specific individual, non-age appropriate sexual knowledge, and an increase in nightmares.

You can learn more about the FBI’s response HERE.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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