Is it worth 200 FBI agents working nationwide to save that one child from being victimized? So it's not a question of resources and hysteria; it's a question of, we just can't afford to have our children continue to be victimized by these predators. The crime problem is on the rise and has been for the last 12 years.
They talk about sex with these people, and then eventually they go off to meet them feeling some level of trust, sometimes even a sense of love and affection for this person they've been communicating with.
Typically they return on several occasions for sexual encounters.
] The one-in-five number certainly did sensitize people to the fact that kids are getting a lot of unwanted solicitations.
But I don't think what got adequately publicized was not all of these are hardened Internet predators who are making the solicitations.
Here in Los Angeles, there's a very aggressive multi-agency task force. Many just think that they're smarter than anyone else and they know how to handle it. They'll go into Web sites, they'll go places on the Internet where they know maybe vulnerable children are located; for instance, chatrooms dealing with loss, chatrooms dealing with skateboarding, pets, mourning.
There are also 45 different Internet-crimes-against-children task forces funded by the Department of Justice and managed by other state, federal and local police agencies, including one here in Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Police Department. We're conducting investigations that cover the gamut of Internet activity. [Is there any truth to this idea that some of these kids are going willingly, that we have the wrong idea when we think of this only in terms of abductions? If a stranger contacts them online, if someone makes an unwanted sexual advance, ... They will go into these rooms purporting to be another kid, and they'll strike up conversations with children. We did a search warrant this morning, where we seized multiple hard drives and computers where these predators will have upwards of a thousand contacts, a thousand buddies lined up. They know what time they're on at night; they know what they like. We've seized binders, volumes of binders, where these predators will have photographs of children's schools, swim teams, basketball teams, any type of social group where there's children.[Give me a sense of the scale of resources that the FBI is investing.] At any one time, the FBI has 30 undercover operations internationally addressing this crime problem.We have, at one time, over 200 FBI agents working this crime problem full-time nationwide. [When you talk about "matching wits," what do you mean, in terms of the predators' techniques? Based on my experience, the sexual predator online will try to become the confidante or friend, confessor of the victim.] The figures, as far as I'm aware of them, indicate probably 83 percent of child victims go willingly with the subject, with the predator. They're not making intelligent, knowing decisions to go with these people. And they'll catalog them, and they'll look on Web sites.But again the ages of these victims are anywhere from 13 to 15, 16 years old. They have all the time in the world; they'll spend all night. That's all they do; it's their full-time job is to find children on the Internet. [How can you communicate the risk to parents without causing hysteria? I'm surprised at the number of times I go to give school presentations or parent group presentations when the parents say, "I didn't know that; I had no idea that you could check the history of their online usage.[That statistic is not talked about as often.] The one-in-20 statistic is not talked about as much. The one-in-seven statistic is the one that people want to use to sensitize people to the fact that there is a problem out there, and so they're going to cite the biggest number that they can. But what I think needs to happen, though, is that people really need to put that in context and present it in a way that gives the fuller picture.