FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Technology is ingrained in our lives. From e-learning to zoom meetings, social networking to gaming, people of all ages live, work and play online. But with the ease of digital access comes dangers that everyone, especially children and their parents, must be aware of and prepared for. That’s where the Broward Sheriff’s Office comes in.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office manages the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which is made up of more than 60 law enforcement agencies spread across 12 counties in south and southwest Florida. There are dozens of ICAC task forces in the United States.
ICAC focuses on identifying, investigating and arresting people who sexually exploit children online. ICAC also works to spread awareness and provide education through important tips and resources to empower parents and children to stay safe and make smart decisions when they access the internet and related technology.
Recently, Broward Sheriff’s ICAC members arrested an Oakland Park man for possessing child pornography. His arrest is one of 40 arrests Broward Sheriff’s ICAC Unit made in 2021, including separate high-profile cases involving a pediatrician, a school resource officer and a school crossing guard.
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In many ICAC cases, the suspect reaches out to and cultivates relationships with children online. With behaviors like cyberbullying, sextortion and sex trafficking increasing, parents need to take active steps to be knowledgeable about their children’s social media and internet activities.
- Know the social media apps that your kids are using. Ask them to show you how the apps work and to give you their password. Remind them to keep their apps set to private. Remember that these apps change frequently.
- Know who your children are communicating with online.
- Become familiar with emojis that your kids use to communicate.
- Be familiar with cyberbullying and sextortion, and talk to your children about how and when they occur and how to respond if it happens to them.
- Be a trusting person that your children can talk to about these sensitive matters.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office is reminding the community that help is out there for parents and children.
If you or someone you know is being cyberbullied or is a victim of online enticement, report a cyber-tip HERE. To learn more about the South Florida ICAC Task Force, CLICK HERE, and to become more educated about online dangers and how to protect yourself and your kids, visit the ICAC resource page HERE.