CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -There is yet another unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s dangerous for children.
With kids no longer spending the majority of their days in school its lead to a dangerous trend.
More time on the internet has lead to increased sexual crimes against children by online predators, and even missing child reports.
“Recent news reports seem to indicate an uptick in these instances across northeast Ohio and the entire state,” according to Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy who is also a member of Cleveland Missing, an activist group for children. “One contributing factor can be associated with the change of lifestyle children have sustained during the pandemic. The normalcy of the daily social interaction was completely disrupted which may have cause some to go astray.”
Members of Ohio’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force are also seeing an alarming trend.
“The task force has seen an increase in NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) Cybertips across the board during this pandemic, specifically in the areas of child pornography and online enticement of children for sexual acts,” according to Commander David Frattare with Ohio ICAC. “Cybertips have increased dramatically during March and April to our highest levels in the last decade and are a barometer of the ever changing online landscape and the dangers that exist to our children in cyberspace.”
The Ohio Attorney General, Dave Yost, has a website that lists all of the recent missing persons cases.
Scrolling through, you find multiple teenagers are being reported missing every day.
On May 26 alone, five teenagers are listed as missing from all over the state.
All five are listed as endangered runaways.
One of the concerns for both Majoy and Frattare is parent involvement during the pandemic.
“One of our biggest concerns is what appears to be a lack of supervision on the part of parents and caregivers who are uneducated about the dangers of the Internet or falsely believe that their children are not in danger of falling victim to online enticement or exploitation,” Frattare said. “The vast majority of online exploitation involving child victims occurs within minutes often times in the child’s home.”