Computer Crime Research Center


McCollum, John Walsh: Cybercrimes Affect Real Child Victims

Date: January 09, 2008

LAWFUEL - The Legal Newswire - TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum and America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh hosted a discussion today with members of the Attorney General’s CyberCrime Unit to discuss the importance of the CyberCrime and CyberSafety initiatives and their impact on child victims.

Joining the Attorney General and Walsh was the Chief of Law Enforcement for the CyberCrime Unit, who provided information about the nature of the unit’s investigations and instances where children have been rescued as a result of those investigations. Also present were volunteer educators from the Attorney General’s Office who have been presenting McCollum’s 50-minute CyberSafety program to middle and high school students throughout the state.

“The startling number of children who are victimized through cybercrimes is evidence enough for why a heavy-handed approach toward internet child predators is so important,” said Attorney General McCollum.

“Every single child who can be saved from the devastating impact of cybercrime is one more child who will not have to live with the scars of that victimization for the rest of his or her life.”

Information on the CyberCrime Unit’s investigations was provided by Chuck McMullen, Chief of Law Enforcement for the Attorney General’s CyberCrime Unit. Chief McMullen described instances where CyberCrime investigators have identified or rescued child victims in danger of being further victimized as a result of investigations into possession of child pornography. Florida ranks 4th in the nation for the volume of child pornography and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, co-founded by John Walsh, reports that more than 1,200 children have been
identified nationwide as child pornography victims since 2002.

“Attorney General McCollum's CyberCrime Unit is a model for the
nation and the CyberSafety initiative is imperative because knowledge is
power. I applaud his proactive approach to protect Florida and the
country's greatest resource – our children," said John Walsh. “Attorney
General McCollum is sending a loud message to predators everywhere that
Florida will do everything necessary to protect kids. His hard work in this area is something that I hope that Attorneys General from every state take note of and use as an example.”

The Attorney General’s CyberCrime investigators also regularly
conduct undercover investigations online where they are approached by
internet child predators who believe they are soliciting children – or the parents of those children – for sex. National statistics show that last week alone, 260 children reported being sexually solicited over the
internet. More than 33,000 reported online solicitations have occurred
since 1998. Since October 2005, the Attorney General’s CyberCrime Unit has made 57 arrests. Of those individuals arrested, 10 believed they were
talking to a child online and traveled to meet that child for the purpose
of further sexually abusing him or her. Four of these arrests have been in the past four months.

The conversation also focused on the number of students who have
received the CyberSafety presentations and the number who subsequently
revealed victimization to an advocate or educator. Launched at the
beginning of this school year, the CyberSafety program combines real-life
stories and examples to help students identify the ways they could be
victimized online and is designed to empower children to use the internet
safely. During the presentations, the students receive information about
internet dangers as well as tactics used by online child predators. They
also learn what constitutes a cybercrime and how to report it. An open line of communication between the students and the victim advocates is strongly encouraged to give the opportunity for private disclosure of any offenses.

The Attorney General’s victim advocates also offer counseling to any child who discloses victimization and can refer any reported offenses to law enforcement for investigation. During today’s discussion, the victim advocates reported that more than 23,000 students have received the
presentations to date and more than 1,400 students have reported some type of victimization, including unsolicited pornographic material and direct sexual advances.

Attorney General McCollum has set a goal of bringing the critical
CyberSafety Education message to all middle and high schools in Florida by the end of this school year. More information on the program, including information about how to schedule presentations at Florida schools and tips on internet safety is available online at

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