Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody continued the “Idle Time: A Summer Safety Series” this week by offering tips to parents to help protect children from online predators.
Human traffickers recruit more than half of victims online, usually through social media platforms, web-based messaging apps and online chat rooms. In a recent human trafficking case Moody’s office is prosecuting, a middle-aged Clay County man met a Pasco County teenager on an online chatroom, then trafficked the minor for sex with other adults.
As summer approaches and children have more idle time to spend on computers and mobile devices, it is crucial that parents are equipped with the information needed to keep their kids safe.
Moody said, “With school out for summer, children may be spending more time online. Human traffickers and other online predators use social media and chat rooms to target minors. In fact, we just charged a human trafficker in a case involving the online solicitation of a Florida teen. That is why it is so important to take steps to protect your children online, and to help parents, I am continuing our Idle Time series with online safety tips.”
Since 2000, traffickers recruited 55 percent of sex trafficking victims online, primarily using social media, messaging apps and online chat rooms. The median age of a child being contacted is 15 years old. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, predators targeted more than 3,000 minors in sextortion cases in 2022 alone.
Moody offered the following tips to parents and guardians to help keep children safe from online predators:
Establish clear rules and boundaries regarding internet usage—whether that is limiting accessible sites, apps and social media platforms or setting time limits for online activities;
Monitor a child’s online activity and be aware of friends and contacts they may have;
Teach children about the importance and consequences of safeguarding personal information online; and
Warn children about talking to or meeting up with strangers from the internet.
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