We are in the midst of a global pandemic that has abruptly shut down daily life for millions of people. We are staying home and practicing social distancing in order to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors safe. While these measures protect us from the coronavirus; they do not protect from other dangers.
- Internet exploitation
- Human trafficking
- Domestic violence and child abuse
Families are home together during quarantine, but they are spending a large amount of time on the internet to do school work or work from home. The internet provides a useful link to the outside world where we can resume a sense of normalcy by keeping up with school, work, and connecting with others. Unfortunately, children are also spending a lot of time alone on the internet without parental supervision and predators know this. Internet predators, both pedophiles and human traffickers, are actively seeking out vulnerable children to befriend and groom during the coronavirus pandemic. The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has predicted that the number of cyber crimes reports will TRIPLE during the COVID-19 crisis.
Human trafficking is still a widespread problem during this global crisis. Sex workers are being held with their pimps and are still being sold to “johns.” Laborers are still being forced to work and live in unsafe conditions. Online recruiters are using internet exploitation tactics to seek out vulnerable children and people. Pornographic photos and videos are still being produced and circulated on the internet. Quarantine is not protecting these victims from abuse and exploitation.
Domestic Violence and Child Abuse
It can be hard for many of us to imagine our homes as being a dangerous place, but for many people this is a harsh reality. Quarantine forces victim and abuser together with no outside relief, witnesses, or help. Across the country, law enforcement is preparing for a rise in domestic violence calls. As former FBI agent Brad Garrett tells an ABC reporter during a recent interview, “The shelter in place forces couples to remain home and the abuser will then have more power to control and abuse the victim, stating they cannot leave for fear of catching the virus.” This is also true for children that are quarantined with an abusive parent or guardian.
What Can You Do?
- Report any suspected abuse or human trafficking to your local police department
- Parents: Be present and available for your kids and talk to them about internet safety
- Visit the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking website for COVID-19 internet safety information
- Read our blog on Internet Safety and sign up for a live stream presentation about Online Human Trafficking on Thursday April 23 from 7-9 PM