With internet use more prominent than ever as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so have internet-related crimes involving minors. With 1 in 5 children being sexually solicited online, Florida State Senator Lauren Book (D-32) has established free resources online in order to combat online child exploitation and predation.
This past year, children and teens' increased reliance on digital devices during COVID community closures has exacerbated the threat of online predation, and according to the National Center for Missing end Exploited Children, there has been a 97.5% increase in online enticement reports in 2020 compared to that same 12-month period in 2019.
Through Lauren's Kids, a foundation established to protect vulnerable children, Senator Book has released two powerful PSAs— 'Digital Dangers' and 'Tik Tok: It's Time To Check on Your Child' —to highlight the need for this month of significance along with free resources for families to prevent exploitation of their children.
"Unfortunately, where kids go, so too those who wish to harm them," said Senator Book "Each internet-capable device acts as an open door for millions of people, directly into your-and your child's-life," adding "While the internet serves as an invaluable resource when used for a child's education, entertainment, and discovery, parents must realize that the digital world is also a playground for skills predators."
Senator Book believes that establishing an official internet code of conduct would be "important for children of all ages to understand their behavior online should mirror their behavior in the physical world." Senator Book and the entire Lauren's Kids Foundation urge families and youth to self-inform about ways to keep kids safe online.