Increasing sex-related dangers through Internet access by children and teens were described by a Miami-Dade Police detective to a West Kendall audience on May 30.
“Remember there’s a difference between two types of those seeking to reach your kids,” Det. David Invernizzi advised members of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for Miami-Dade Police Hammocks District. “Pedophiles normally seek youngsters below the age of 12. Predators entice teenagers from 13 to 17. That’s an important difference when talking about Internet safety with family youngsters.”
This is a topic Det. Invernizzi constantly advises as one member of a two-man countywide police team, assigned to Internet investigations.
As a member of the Special Victims Bureau of MDPDs Criminal Investigations Unit, the team investigates computer child pornography, transmission of pornography by electronic device or equipment, soliciting a child for a sex crime and exposing minors to harmful motion pictures.
The Bureau also conducts proactive and undercover online investigations related to child pornography and solicitations of a child for a sex crime, working closely with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a partner of a South Florida Task Force commonly known as “Law Enforcement Against Child Harm.”
“We investigate any Internet violation that is sex-related to a minor under 18 years of age and involves any type of electronic device,” Det. Invernizzi said.
“Our primary mission is to teach how you can keep young people safe from sex exploitation while they use the Internet.”
Noting that identification theft is the most commonly used contact, Det. Invernizzi said, “Most people have little idea of the extent of information pedophiles and predators gain from something as innocent as a YouTube contact or an email address.
“In one case involving a teen girl in the Hammocks area, we found innocent contacts by her on Facebook eventually led to over 430,000 hits on her site over a four-year period by potential offenders.”
In addition, Det. Invernizzi warned that all commercial solicitations on the Internet “will involve selling whatever information you or your youngsters input to a third party. That is how Internet businesses make their money.”
Among key precautions advised:
• Make sure passwords are not gender- specific;
• Read details of Internet “Terms of Service” offers, and
• Check youngsters’ habit changes for signs of cyber-bullying.
Parents especially need to be aware of detecting changing attitudes of children and teens to spot hidden contacts that their off- spring may be too embarrassed to mention.
For extensive guidance on parental awareness, he advised logging onto a national network at www.NetSmartzResources.org. For potential sex exploitation cases involving juveniles, call 305-715-3219.