Law enforcement within Canadian County, Oklahoma has established a task force dedicated to catching predators and protecting children online. This task force, with help from Canadian County’s Sheriff’s Department, relies on tips from concerned citizens as well as investigators who pose as minors on various social media networks. Arrests have already been made, including an incident with a man who believed he was communicating with a 14-year-old girl. Investigators, posing as children, received numerous messages from a man carrying on graphic conversations with and soliciting sex from a minor. The damning nature of the conversations left the man arrested with little grounds for defense.
Sexual exploitation and sexual assault of minors is a serious and growing problem within the United States. Federal and state law enforcement agencies have responded to this crisis with task forces to protect children. In the last decade, there has been a 2500% increase in arrests related to child pornography nationwide.
The staggering statistics on the sexual exploitation of children might surprise you:
- According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, about 100,000 minors are victimized by sexual exploitation.
- Roughly 2/3 of the prison population’s sex offenders committed crimes against children.
- There are almost 800,000 registered sex offenders in the United States and a significant segment of offenders (up to 100,000) is non-compliant or missing.
- About 28% of minors between the ages of 14 and 17 have been sexually victimized.
- Approximately, one out of every 25 children in the United States has been solicited for sexual encounters online.
Catching Predators in Canadian County, Oklahoma
Canadian County’s internet safety task force has a presence on numerous social media platforms. With investigators posing as children on networks like Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and Kik, persons online should assume that anyone they talk to could be a law enforcement officer.
Social networks monitored by law enforcement in Canadian County:
- Facebook and Facebook Messenger
- Tiger Text
- Teen Chat
- Whats App
- Xbox Gamer Forums
- Playstation Gamer forums
- Google Hangouts
As a general rule, one can never be certain that the person they think they are communicating with is genuine. When it comes to speaking with underaged people online, the risks are serious and life altering. Not only can your communication with a minor land you in prison, it can damage your reputation and the reputation of your family for the rest of your life. Moreover, the minor with whom you speak could suffer with severe trauma that will follow them forever. If law enforcement has record of your conversations with underaged persons online, the defenses are limited and you must find an experienced defense lawyer to build your defense.
Even if you believe you’re speaking to an adult, there’s no way to be absolutely sure that the person you’re communicating with is over 18 unless you know them in person and have seen his or her government-issued identification. With photo and video filters, makeup, and lighting tricks, it’s easy for people online to appear older than they actually are—which further blurs the line between discerning someone’s real age on the Internet.
Bear in mind, too that underaged persons cannot consent to sexual activity. Even if they speak to you as if they’re an adult, profess to having previous sexual encounters, or initiate conversation with you, you are still legally and morally responsible for your words and actions.
Seeking Help for Paraphilia and Pedophilia
If you find yourself fantasizing about sexual encounters with underaged people, have solicited minors online or in-person in the past, or currently use the Internet to communicate with young boys or girls, you should seek professional help with a therapist or counselor. Some psychotherapy modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy and aversive conditioning can help you overcome unnatural urges that involve fantasizing about minors or soliciting them for sexual activity.
Our criminal defense attorney serves residents in and around Canadian County, Oklahoma. If you have been charged with a crime, call our practice to schedule a consultation.