A Report Shows a Surge in Child Grooming Online Past Two Years

"hackers" by Stock Catalog

A recent report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children showed some shocking data from the past couple of years. This is outlining a surge in grooming and soliciting of minors on the internet in the last two years.

Likely impacted by the rapid shift to an online environment, 2020 saw a 97.5% spike in reports of online enticement of children. The rate was continuously growing and peaking in December 2021 at upwards of 100 million reports of child sexual exploitation.

However, reports of predatory behavior continued to grow in number; they’ve maintained this pace as computer and internet technology developed over the years.

“Little girl with protective mask looking at camera. Closeup of eye” by Nenad Stojkovic

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While a great majority of these reports are harmless, there are certainly cases of actual grooming among them. With the growing amount of children with unsupervised access to the internet, these rates will only continue to rise.

The scariest thing is this can happen to any child online, at any time, especially now that the internet’s evolved from the chatrooms of the early 2000s; a groomer will often strike up a sexual topic as a grooming method, rather than a goal.

Their other methods include asking for sexual images or videos, sending their own, or even offering incentives, such as gift cards, drugs, free lodging, and alcohol.

Oftentimes, children are also faced with “sextortion.” This is when a predator blackmails a minor to obtain sexual favors from a child using images or content the child wouldn’t wish to be seen by the rest of the internet.

More often than not, it’s a familiar face

With standard exploitation crimes online, the perpetrator is a complete stranger 98% of the time; whereas sextortion crimes are more often than not committed by a person close to the victim, with the rate being around 60%.

Sadly, it never ends with just that; these crimes often branch into child sexual trafficking, which has never been as prominent as it is now.

As a way of combating this, the NCMEC developed the CyberTipline in 1998, which, due to reports showing an increase in crime rates, hasn’t done much to protect America’s children.

Four years later, the Child Victim Identification Program was developed as well with the mission to provide information regarding previous victims of child exploitation or trafficking, while also helping locate unidentified victims whose pictures were found online.

Aside from these two programs, the NCMEC has moved mountains when it comes to educating and supporting the families that have gone through these hardships, as well as providing shelter for any victims of child exploitation.

The internet age certainly provided groomers and child predators with additional tools. Although major developments have been made towards protecting the children as well, albeit certainly not enough, given the increase in reports and crime rates.

This article appeared in Our Patriot and has been published here with permission.