Fighting Online Sex Crimes

Article excerpt

Investigating and prosecuting Internet sex crimes against children is challenging, but these cases "are not posing insurmountable difficulties for law enforcement," according to a recent report by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Crimes Against Children Research Center, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the Department of Justice.

According to the report, between July 1, 2000, and July 1, 2001, there were about 2,500 arrests made by federal, state, and local agencies for Internet sex crimes against minors. Arrests came in three categories. The first, Internet crimes against identified victims (I-CIV), accounted for 39 percent of arrests. These crimes include the production of child pornography and those "in which offenders lured and victimized youth whom they first met online."

The second category, Internet solicitations to undercover law enforcement (I-STULE), accounted for 25 percent of the arrests. I-STULE cases are those where law enforcement agents assume the identify of minors in chatrooms and wait to be approached by offenders; these arrests are proactive, the report states, "because they allow law enforcement to act without waiting for an offender to commit a crime against a juvenile victim. …