D.A.R.E. warns of danger to children surfing the Internet

With the expansion of computer technology, cyber criminals have more places to find their next victims, and more places to hide, according to two law enforcement experts in Internet child exploitation.

“You have to know where to look,” said Robert Jahier, of the Hawai’i Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, comparing child pornography to illicit drugs: No one’s going to be holding a sign on the side of the road, he explained.

Jahier and Kaua’i Police Department Youth Services Detective Eric Shibuya, presented a lecture called “Internet: Crime on Computers” at the first day of the 13th Annual Drug Abuse Resistance Education state training conference. They talked about child pornography and Internet child sex exploitation.

About 50 educators and law enforcement officials from around the state and Kaua’i participated in panel discussions and lectures, which included club drugs, crime on the Internet and gangs.

The HICAC Task Force, run by the state AG, is a partner with the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to investigate and prosecute people who victimize children via the Internet, computers and electronic technology.

More than 25 million kids are online and by the end of 2005, it’s estimated that 75 million kids will have Internet access, they said.

According to http://www.google.com, a popular Internet search site, 12 percent of the world’s registered domain names are linked to porn sites.

Possessing even one pornographic image of children or exposing children to adult porn is illegal, and the HICAC goes after images of violence, rape, sodomy, torture and even murder.

Child porn is usually traded in series and in mass quantities among “collectors,” who use them “to satisfy sexual fantasies and curiosities and to break down the resistance of their next victim,” Jahier said. Files are traded via the Internet and shown to other kids to show them that those activities are “normal,” Shibuya said.

Children as young as two have been seen in images being raped or sexually abused.

Cybersex locations include chat rooms, commercial and private Web sites, newsgroups and e-mail.

“How many people here have been in a chat room?” asked Jahier. No one in the room raised their hand, which apparently didn’t come as a surprise, and he explained what a chat room looks like.

A chat room is a virtual area on the Internet that operates similarly to a conference call. Instead of hearing what people are saying, conversations are typed and appear in a list on the screen next to people’s “screen names,” or nicknames users call themselves.

Using chat rooms and instant messengers and private conversations that are not moderated for safety, predators “groom” children by collecting personal information to initiate an emotional connection. Children want to take the relationship further-and often they do, Jahier said.

Child porn possession and child sex exploitation go together, as one of the state’s biggest child exploitation cases showed last year when a 13-year-old Kaua’i girl was lured to have sex with and be videotaped by a 39-year-old man. He was sentenced to 6.5 years in federal prison without possibility for parole earlier this year.

The HICAC uses a tactic known as “lurking” to lure predators into making contact in undercover operations. New laws such as the Electronic Enticement Act allows enforcement officials and investigators to pretend to be a youth and waiting for a predator to make contact and ask to meet in person.

Shibuya noted that the HICAC and KPD have been involved with ongoing undercover operations involving lurking in chat rooms and setting up meetings with suspected predators.

“Internet talking, fantasy, is not illegal. But when they get in their car to meet in a location, the wheels of justice started turning,” Jahier said.

The complications of such investigations are the capacities of computer technology, actions across state lines and jurisdictions, and complexity of the cases.

A person convicted of child sexual exploitation or child pornography can face up to 20 years imprisonment.

The Hawai’i DARE Officers Association’s state training conference started Monday and concludes today at the Kauai Coconut Beach Resort.

It runs in conjunction with the first-ever “DARE Hawai’i Spring Break Hoops Challenge,” which included six teams, from Big Island, O’ahu, Maui and Kaua’i started Sunday and ends today with a championship game.

For more information, access http://www.hicac.com, www.dare.org, or call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678. Or call the HICAC at 274-3141, ext. 74116 (direct line 1-808-587-4116) or e-mail at mailto:ATG_ICAC@hawaii.gov.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at mailto:kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

Cyberspace terms

  • chat room – virtual location online where people can meet to talk about various interests.
  • cyber – sexual online talk.
  • download, dl – transferring files or information from another person’s computer or server to your computer.
  • upload – transferring your computer files to someone else
  • f2f – face-to-face, meeting in person.
  • fserver – another computer used for storage (may or may not be in the person’s possession)
  • PM or IM – private, one-on-one conversation.
  • lurking – being present in a chat room without participation.
  • morf – male or female. Common question asked before beginning a PM/IM conversation.
  • newbie – someone new to using the Internet.
  • asl or a/s/l – age, sex, location. A common question.
  • buddy list – a list of chosen screen names that tells the user when people are online.
  • sn – screen name; a nickname that someone calls him/herself.
  • profile – a list of personal information that a user can choose to provide, including age, sex, location, real name, e-mail, and interests.
  • webcam – a camera that connects to a computer, allowing still photo images and live video to be transmitted between computers.
  • server – computers or hard drives linked together for storage space.
  • moderator – looks for offensive content, such as sexually explicit terms, code words or foul language, and ejects those people from chat rooms.
  • filtering software – programs used to block either Web sites or certain words from being accessed.

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