HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (4/25/14) — Computers, laptops, smart phones and mobile devices are wonderful contributions to a fast-paced, tech-savvy society.
Yet there are dangers streaming across those connections, too. Statistics reveal the dangers are growing.
One in five U.S. teenagers, who regularly log on to the Internet, say they have received an unwanted sexual solicitation via the Web, and one in 33 youth received an aggressive sexual solicitation in the past year, according to Crimes Against Children Research Center.
In Hopkins County the numbers are growing, too.
On April 23, Madisonville Rotary arranged for Kentucky State Police Detective Dan Morck of Post 2 Madisonville to discuss the escalating problems regarding sexual offenders and re-offenders in Hopkins County.
According to Morck, there are 100 registered sex offenders living in Hopkins County and "40 percent of those released from prison for sex offenses will re-offend within the first year."
He told the Rotary members that "80 percent (of sexual offenders) that view child pornography have offended or will offend."
Sexual offenders do not have to live in local communities to threaten, harm or exploit children.
"Thirty-two girls in Hopkins County were victimized by a sexual predator from London, England," said Morck. "The parents of 31 of the girls had no idea that their daughters were being victimized."
The man was arrested thanks to an international effort included KSP, Homeland Security and Scotland Yard.
To help with the growing sexual predator problem, the Kentucky Sex Offender Registry was developed in 1984 to create public safety and awareness. KSP maintains the Kentucky Sex Offender Alert Line (866) 564-5652 and the Kentucky Sex Offender Registry Website.
Morck's primary focus is Hopkins County.
"KSP is on Social Media looking for adults talking with minors (usually 12 and under) in a sexual manner," he said.
What can you do to protect your children online?
Monitor what your children are doing online with social media on their phones. Use family settings on your computers. Communicate with children, let them know it is okay to tell them if something makes them feel threatened, uncomfortable or scared. Set "surfing" rules and make sure they follow age appropriate guidelines for sites. Make yourself aware of these sites too. Don't let children use full names and be smart about details in photography. Don't let young children use chat rooms and especially warn them not to leave the public chat areas to private "whisper" rooms. Monitor all live correspondence in chat rooms, instant messaging and emails with young children.
Morck offered these additional suggestions:
Report tips on suspected criminal activity of a non-emergency nature to local law enforcement. In the event of an emergency, call 911 immediately.
Register with the Kentucky Sex Offender Alert Line at (866) 564-5652 and enter your phone number and zip code. When KSP receives notice a registered sex offender is moving into your area, you will receive a notification call.
The creation of the protection and notification system stemmed from reaction to several tragic instances. As a result, "Megan's Law" went into effect April 21, 1996, and Kentucky created the Kentucky Sex Offender Registry, its version of Megan's Law.For more information, visit http://kspsor.state.ky.us and www.Meganslaw.com. Call the Kentucky Sex Offender Alert Line (866) 564-5652 or Sex Offender Registry Website (877) 994-9961.
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