Technology, Social Media, and Crime
With social media and the internet, youth can connect with others in different states or countries. Because of this, legal issues can arise between people that are not geographically close to each other, often making them difficult to navigate.
For instance, a social media user could be grooming a youth in Pennsylvania on Kik, a Canadian-based messaging app that was popular with youth in the early 2010’s, which means Pennsylvania law enforcement has to contact Kik and Canadian law enforcement to solve the issue. If the perpetrator is in Australia or another country, there are even more legal loops to resolve the situation. Similar situations can take place on other apps and social media platforms, too.
How Do I Navigate a Legal Issue?
The first step you can take to resolve a legal issue online is to contact the local police. This is the most direct way to solve a problem, as they can lead you in the right direction. There's a good chance that the local law enforcement has dealt with similar legal issues.
In Pennsylvania, you can also contact your District Attorney's office to speak with a law clerk or find your state’s Attorney General to get assistance.
Reporting Legal Issues Online
When a legal issue arises online, such as sexual exploitation or revenge porn, you must report it on the app where the crime took place. However, it can be challenging to know where and how to report an issue through an app.
Cyberbullying Research Center
The Cyberbullying Research Center has generated an ongoing list of where to report abuse. You can search for the particular app or gaming network you are experiencing a legal issue on, and they will guide you through the process of reporting abuse.
Sexual Exploitation Online
Sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse in which a person online takes advantage of a child without their consent for sexual pleasure. If you believe a child is being sexually exploited online, you can help protect them from online predators with these resources.
FBI: Online Predators
The FBI’s goal is to quickly and effectively counter all threats of abuse and child exploitation. They share information online about how they can help protect children from online predators.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
If you think you’ve seen a missing child or suspect a child may have been sexually exploited, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
NCMEC: Responding to Changing Online Threats
Watch this video to learn how NCMEC helps children who’ve been sexually exploited online. This process often entails removing nude images online of victims with their tool that scours to find these images and notify the web host to remove it.
NCMEC has an online CyberTipline to report online exploitation of children. Individuals can report online enticement of children for sexual acts, child sexual molestation, child sexual abuse material, child sex tourism, and more.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: Removing Explicit Content
If you need help removing a nude image from the internet, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children offers a step by step guide on how to remove nude images from various sites and platforms.
School Administrators, Cell Phone Searches, and School Law
When should educators search cell phones, and what are the legal implications? These resources answer those questions.
When Can Educators Search Student Cell Phones?
The Cyberbullying Research Center shared an article about when educators have the authority to search students’ cell phones and when it’s a violation of the student’s rights.
Cell Phone Search Implications
When educators search through a student’s cell phone, there can be legal implications as it can invade one’s privacy. Learn about how legal implications vary between educators and law enforcement.
Training on Legal Issues
If you work at an educational institution or are a professional working with youth, sign up for a training session with Erin Gilsbach. Erin is an attorney who provides organizations training about the best practices related to the law in education and technology.
The Dark Web
Not all activity on the dark web is illegal, but illegal activity can occur on the Dark Web. Some children know how to access the dark web, and if they don’t, they most likely can find a friend that knows how or simply learn how from an online video.
What is Tor, and Should You Use It?
Accessing the dark web is easier than it should be for youth. Individuals use the Tor Browser, which allows users to anonymously search the web, create private websites, and make private chats without their IP addresses being tracked. This video from Mashable Explains provides an overview of the browser.
How to Identify the Browser or App
If you suspect your child is accessing the dark web, check their devices, including any cell phones and tablets, for a Tor Browser. A Tor Browser on a desktop or laptop will look like an onion. On an Apple device, it may look like an onion or a purple circle. On an Android, there are many different app icons when you search “tor.” You can also find similar onion or purple circle logos when you search for “onion” in the Android app store.
Deep Web vs. Dark Web vs. Surface Web
What’s the difference between the surface web, deep web, and dark web? This introductory video from Dark Web Academy explains the difference between these terms
How To Talk To Your Child About the Dark Web
If you discover that your child has been accessing the dark web, it’s necessary to have a conversation with them about the dangers of it. This article from McAfee, a leader in online protection, will help you guide the conversation.
Red Flags for Online Illegal Purchases
If your child is using Bitcoins for online purchases, this could be a red flag for buying illegal products from the Dark Web. While Bitcoins aren’t illegal, online purchases using Bitcoins can be illegal. This video explains what Bitcoin is and how it works.
Cash App is a platform where youth can buy and sell Bitcoin and stocks. Some youth use Cash App to pay for illegal items, such as drugs and alcohol. Check out this article to learn more about Cash Apps, including its features, pros and cons, and how to use it.
Revenge Porn and Sextortion
Revenge porn is defined as “the act of distributing intimate photography through different means without the individual’s consent,” according to Dr. Patchin and Dr. Hinduja at the Cyberbullying Research Center. It’s closely linked to sextortion, which is “the threatened dissemination of explicit, intimate, or embarrassing images of a sexual nature without consent, usually for the purpose of procuring additional images, sexual acts, money, or something else,” also defined by Dr. Patchin and Dr. Hinduja.
“Revenge Porn Research, Laws, and Help for Victims”
Learn about revenge porn and laws, including what it entails, who can be a victim, and more. If your child is a victim of revenge porn, this article can help you navigate the proper steps to take.
Sextortion Among Adolescents
The Cyberbullying Research Center conducted research studies about the percentage of victims and offenders of sextortion based on age, gender, and race.
A child’s identity is a prime target for identity thieves for two reasons. First, a child’s credit will be clean, leaving an open door for applying to government benefits, opening credit cards and bank accounts, and a host of other actions. Second, a child’s identity theft may go unnoticed until they turn eighteen and start applying for college, loans, apartment background checks, etc.
“Identity Theft Can Hit Children Too”
In this article by Larry Magid of SafeKids.com, you’ll learn how children can be impacted by identity theft and why they are often the prime suspect.
Because we live in a digital world with digital threats, we have to protect ourselves accordingly. One way to protect ourselves is Lifelock, owned by Norton. They offer a host of antivirus products to protect your identity and personal information. Shape the Sky founder, Ryan Klingensmith, uses Lifelock for he and his wife.
To keep your children safe from identity theft, consider getting identity theft protection from LifeLock Junior. It’s a low-cost investment that could save you time, money, and headaches in the future. Shape the Sky founder, Ryan Klingensmith, uses Lifelock Junior for his children.
To keep you and your family safe from identity theft, consider getting a protection plan from Identity Guard. Their process consists of five steps: signing up, setting up a watchlist, managing your risk, getting alerts, and restoring your identity.
To receive alerts about potential theft and fraud of your personal information, consider enrolling in an IDShield Plan. By receiving alerts, individuals will be notified in advance to sort out an issue before it becomes a problem. If it does become a problem, IDShield will help you resolve it.
To protect you and your family from identity theft, consider signing up for an Identity Force protection plan. They offer a variety of personal identity theft services, including child identity theft, credit card fraud, medical identity theft, and more.