The State Division of Criminal Investigation has won a 300-thousand dollar federal grant to create the Iowa Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. D-C-I assistant director Steve Bogle says the unit will conduct reactive and proactive investigations into the sexual exploitation of children via the Internet. Bogle says “We’ll have officers on the Internet, in chat rooms, posing as young children. Of course we’ll be careful not to entrap anyone but we will have a presence out there.” Bogle says the task force will be made up of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies working together. Bogle says “There’s a lot of predators out there that are pretending to be somebody else and trying to entice children. We want to be able to, not only investigate those crimes, but collect the forensic evidence that exists off of computers and from Internet service providers.” While we frequently hear news reports about a child being found at a hotel with some adult they met on the Internet, Bogle says it’s unclear how prevalent the crime is in Iowa, and how many incidents are never reported or discovered. Bogle says Iowa parents can take a few precautions to prevent their kids from falling victim to sexual exploitation via their home computers: make sure the computer the child is using is somewhere out where there’s adult supervision, not in the child’s bedroom. Also, adults need to become familiar with the computer and the same programs the child is using. Bogle also suggests getting free software that will block kids from being able to access certain websites and chat rooms. For more information, he suggests surfing to “www.missingkids.org” for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
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