Latest Trend in Child Exploitation Revealed

Real-life stories about how potentially harmful student situations were avoided were among the topics presented during the recent Gaggle Webcast, “Cyber Security in Action: Making Student Safety a Priority,” featuring Peter Johnson, Project Manager for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) NetSmartz411 program.

“Parental involvement and oversight in a child’s online life makes the chances of victimization very slim,” said Peter. “Very often, it’s not the child’s fault. They just need someone to talk to. While we hope it’s a parent, there just needs to be someone who can be an advocate for them.”

NetSmartz411 is a resource for parents, guardians or any concerned adults to help understand the opportunities and challenges that children face online. “The goal of the program is to bridge the technology gap that many parents and educators feel exists that prevents them from talking to children,” added Peter.

During the webcast, Peter defined eight common instances of child exploitation, identifying the top two as child pornography and online enticement of children for sexual acts. “Those are the two that make headlines, makeup the majority of our reports, and what you, as educators, would see day in and day out,” he said.

In addition, Peter identified a new trend in child sexual exploitation known as “sextortion,” which involves predators bribing children to send money or pornography or risk having images sent to parents or other family members. “We want to stress to students that these people can be anyone they meet online,” said Peter. “It’s important that children know that everyone they meet online is not a friend and is not looking after their best interests.”

The Gaggle Webcast also featured Kathy Boehle, Gaggle’s Student Safety Supervisor, who is featured in the new video series “Real Students. Real Stories.”

Kathy spent part of the webcast discussing instances of self-harm, drugs, sex and violence that Gaggle Student Safety Representatives have seen. Gaggle Safety Management works closely with NCMEC, first notifying a district’s emergency contacts then filing a report on NCMEC’s CyberTipline when Gaggle’s proprietary Anti-Pornography Scanner identifies an inappropriate image sent to a student or that appears to involve a student. NCMEC will review Gaggle’s report and contact the appropriate law enforcement entity to handle the issue if necessary.

The Gaggle Webcast also covered ways to teach online safety and key questions to ask when starting discussions with students. Watch the entire Gaggle Webcast by clicking here and scrolling down the page to the section of “Archived Webinars.”