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TBI sees uptick in digital child exploitation cases, offers free webinar for parents

TBI said the amount of child exploitation tips they have received in the last month has doubled.
Credit: AP Images

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — More people are staying at home and that often means more time is spent online. 

Now, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says their organization is seeing a sharp uptick in digital child exploitation cases. 

In response to that increase, TBI posted a free webinar with two special agents who help break down how parents can help protect kids from online predators. 


TBI Agent Rob Burghardt and TBI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Nick Christian provided advice for parents in the video.

"We're definitely seeing a dramatic increase in the number of cyber tips we're receiving," special agent Christian said in the video. 

Special agents urged parents to reconsider the ways their children utilize devices in private spaces, specifically the bedroom or bathroom. 

"Logistically as you set the rules, don't let your child use their devices in the bedroom or bathroom. We see a number of pictures of children doing that. Keep it in the living room, a common area," Burghardt said.

The agents added that quarantine provides a specific set of challenges for parents, and that it is necessary to monitor children's online activity more closely.

"It's okay to reach chat messages for your child. Online predator are obviously quarantined as well. So they're going to have more time on the computer with your child. So, your child may be online more than ever before, so they're not used to being online. They might be contacted by someone they're not used to being contacted by," Christian said. 

Google, Horizon and other apps allow parents to monitor their children's online activity as well.

TBI said the amount of tips they have received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has doubled in the past month. Agents from other departments have been called in to help. 

"Crimes against children is seeing a dramatic increase. We've kind of taken some of those agents to go through the cybertips to kind of triage whatever we can to get that number down as low as possible," Christian said. 

TBI also offered their top four best tips for how to monitor that activity:


1. Use devices only in common areas

2. Consider a third-party monitoring app

3. Find something troubling? Don't delete it!

4. Report troubling content.


FREE RESOURCES: https://www.missingkids.org/netsmartz/resources  

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