Sexual predators are using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to contact and possibly groom children, a United Kingdom crime-watching agency reports. Further, U.K. police are monitoring hundreds of thousands of known sexual predators to make sure they’re not contacting children.
As Yahoo News U.K. reports, children across the country are stuck at home due to social distancing, which means they will most likely be spending more time on their computers than they otherwise would. What’s more, their parents, many of whom are working from home, may not be able to give them the supervision they usually would.
That’s a combination that sexual predators can take advantage of, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.
“The internet has undeniable benefits to society. But it’s also enabled a section of society to commit increasingly horrific crimes against children through grooming, live-streaming and distribution of indecent images,” the group warned.
Further, the group noted that, in as few as three clicks, its own investigators could find websites depicting sexual abuse of children on the regular, open web.
In online chat groups used by pedophiles that are being monitored by authorities, some predators are discussing how to take advantage of this crisis to contact children.
To that end, British police are being particularly proactive about keeping an eye on sexual predators attempting to make contact with kids over the internet. Specifically, authorities believe there are about 300,000 child abusers currently lurking about in the country.
“We are redoubling our efforts to promote our online safety messages to children, parents, carers and teachers and are working with partners to keep children safe,” the agency said.
The group has put together an educational campaign — complete with the social media hashtag #OnlineSafetyAtHome and a website — to teach children and parents about how to stay safe online. The website consists of brief lessons that can be used by parents, teachers, and caretakers. The 15-minute lessons are tailored to specific age groups.
In the United States, the matter of sexual predators potentially using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to contact children has not escaped the notice of the highest levels of government.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, First Lady Melania Trump warned parents that children’s online safety could be compromised during the coronavirus pandemic and reminded parents to check up on their kids regularly to make sure they’re safe online.
The potential has also been noted by the FBI. As Detroit’s WDIV-TV reports, the federal crime agency warned parents this week that predators are taking advantage of the fact that kids are spending more time on their screens than they normally would.