The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department cautions parents to monitor their children’s social media usage amid increased internet crimes.
In a news conference this morning, the department reported it received more than 300 incidents involving online child sex material and pornography, child exploitation, and extortion.
The department said this number is on pace to meet last year’s 724 incidents.
As recently as 2019, CMPD said the department investigated only 98 reported incidents for the entire year.
Many victims are teenagers who are preyed on by strangers while communicating online, the department said.
“These crimes know no geographical, racial, or socioeconomic boundaries,” CMPD Lt. Jim Ivie told reporters. “They target both boys and girls and severely affect the mental health of our children.”
Nearly 60% of cyber tips came from incidents reported from Facebook, Google, Instagram and Snapchat nationwide, according to the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation.
Between 2021 to 2022, the FBI is reporting a 600% increase in sextortion cases in North Carolina. Sextortion is defined as the practice of extorting money or sexual favors from an individual by threatening to reveal evidence of their sexual activity.
So far this year, there have been 123 reported victims of ‘sextortion’ across the state. In some tragic instances, victims have taken their own lives out of embarrassment and fear.
Most victims are teenage boys, CMPD said.
The State Bureau of Investigation attributed virtual learning and remote work to more social media usage, resulting in more online crimes.
How parents can help
Parental involvement is key, CMPD said. Here are some tips to protect your child:
- Always monitor your child’s online presence
- Keep parental controls on your child’s electronic devices
- Discuss with your child what is appropriate online
- Never send any inappropriate/explicit images to ANYONE
- Never chat online with someone you do not know in person
- Limit and monitor the amount of time your child spends on their devices