Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Protecting children from sexual exploitation more important than ever!

Internet sex stings in Florida are nothing new.  40 men were arrested in Orlando for soliciting sex with minors just a few weeks ago.  That arrest included a pro-golfer, a swim coach and an eighth grade teacher.  And here we are again, 21 arrested in Gainesville, including a Physician’s Assistant and an elementary school teacher.  So why am I so disturbed by this report that I felt the need to blog about it?  It’s just becoming more and more common and the perpetrators are seeking these encounters with children and teens knowing that these sting operations are happening.  But their desires are such that they are willing to take that risk in order to meet up with a young child or teen for sex.  Consequences aside, they think the risk is worth it, and that to me is scary!

There is no doubt that the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet is a huge problem in our country and it’s growing every day.  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has ample facts and resources about this issue for professionals, parents and communities that can be found on their website:  However, it is up to us to learn more and do more.  Reading the newspaper and being appalled is simply no longer enough.  There are tools available and we, as the responsible adults in society, MUST use them to protect children today!

Do you know what the sexual exploitation of children is?  Do you know if your child has ever been solicited online, if they’ve ever received any unwanted offers, if they’ve ever communicated with a stranger online? Do you know that according to NCMEC, 1 in 7 children between the ages of 10 and 17 has received a sexual solicitation online? Yet only 5% of those solicitations were ever reported to law enforcement or an Internet service provider.  Do you know NCMEC hosts a cybertipline for just such reports?

At the Monique Burr Foundation for Children we are working hard every day to protect Florida’s children by educating and empowering all elementary school age children in first through fifth grades to recognize and report any unsafe situation they might encounter on the Internet.  It is a part of a more comprehensive program called Speak Up Be Safe™ and we are diligently working to educate and empower the adults in their lives as well as the community about these same dangers and resources.  Please help us.  Visit our website at to become educated about this program and share our message.  It’s that important and it’s that necessary!

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