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Important Notice from the US Attorney District of Kansas

 Letter from US Attorney District of Kansas 

 

                                                                         April 22, 2020

 

 

Dear Commissioner Watson and Kansas Educators:

 

As the United States Attorney for the District of Kansas and the Special Agent in Charge for the Kansas City Division of the FBI, which includes Kansas, one of our highest priorities is the protection of children. Our young people today face more online threats than ever, and that was true before the Kansas schools closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Now, children are likely spending even more time online each day, which gives predators more opportunities to exploit them. In this new environment, we want to remind educators, parents, caregivers, and children about the dangers of online sexual exploitation, urge the adults to watch for the signs of such exploitation and abuse, and to report to and engage federal and state law enforcement authorities when exploitation and abuse are suspected or discovered.

 

As educators, you know that children sometimes can be too trusting online and befriend people they may not know. Predators take advantage of this and target children, often between the ages of 10 and 17, typically through social media. Children across all demographics and genders can be targeted and exploited. Sexual exploitation, even when there is never any physical contact, causes very real harm and has a lasting impact. Images and videos do not disappear from the Internet, and the long term effects can be devastating.

 

Online sexual exploitation can come in many forms. One particularly pernicious form is sextortion, which occurs when a predator entices a victim into providing sexually explicit images or videos—usually by falsely pretending to be a teen, someone much younger and different than their real identity—and then threatens to share the images publicly if the victim fails to comply with the predator’s demands for increasingly explicit and degrading images and videos. In order for such victimization to stop, children typically need adult intervention and assistance. They have to confide in someone they trust—a parent, teacher, friend, or caregiver—who can help them cut off the communications and report the situation to law enforcement, which will permit us to pursue the predator.

 

We encourage you to review the resources regarding child exploitation and other crimes related to COVID-19 at https://www.fbi.gov/coronavirus. If you suspect or become aware of possible sexual exploitation of a child, please contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (https://tips.fbi.gov), the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (https://www.kbi.ks.gov/sar), or your local law enforcement agency and report it. Such exploitation is a serious federal crime carrying severe federal penalties.

 

Together, during the pandemic, federal law enforcement has aggressively investigated and prosecuted COVID-19 related crimes such as fraud, price-gouging and hoarding of essential medical supplies. But we stand ready to act just as aggressively against those who might seek to take advantage of this situation to exploit our children.

 

Sincerely,

 

s/Stephen R. McAllister                                        s/Timothy R. Langan

Stephen R. McAllister                                           Timothy R. Langan

United States Attorney                                         Special Agent in Charge

District of Kansas                                                   Kansas City Division, FBI

 

 

 

 

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