What You Can Do to Protect Children from Unwanted Sexual Solicitation Online
Programs to use and top tips for parents
(page 2 of 7)
Close to home
Westchester statistics are in line with the national average, says Westchester Assistant District Attorney Susan Brownbill-Vega. “Because of all the information access, there are adult problems for kids, who don’t have the maturity or skill sets to deal with these issues,” she says. That’s where the DA’s office comes in. As of 2013, 20 assistant district attorneys had received training to conduct workshops in schools and elsewhere to increase awareness about Internet safety—including cyber predators—among students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Brownbill-Vega estimates that she conducts about 50 of these workshops annually.
The DA’s office has been tracking down cyber predators at least since 1999, when former Westchester DA Jeanine F. Pirro instituted an Internet sting operation with undercover investigators posing as minors in chats and emails. The program continues, with arrests often taking place when the would-be perp shows up to meet the “teen” he’s been communicating with.
It’s District Attorney Janet DiFiore’s hope that the creepers are paying attention. “Every time a predator goes online or into a chat room, he should wonder if the child victim that he is trying to lure into an illegal sexual encounter is really a member of law enforcement,” she said in a January 2013 press release about the conviction of Hossam Elfeke, a Yonkers deli manager who had sexually explicit chats with an investigator he thought was a 15-year-old. “In having members of law enforcement patrolling cyberspace, they can intercede and trap a pedophile before their criminal behavior escalates into a physical sexual assault of a real child."