OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is seeing an increase in Oklahoma children being targeted online.
OSBI told KFOR, kids are being targeted online in many different ways. It could be happening through video games, social media or any way your child has access to the internet.
2022 was Oklahoma’s biggest year as OSBI received just over 6,000 tips related to internet crimes against children from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“There’s probably a number of reasons. You know, a lot of it may have to do with coming out of the pandemic. So, we don’t get into analyzing why we’re seeing them. But we can report that we saw 6,004 in 2022,” said Brook Arbeitman, OSBI Public Information Officer.
A startling number of cases for the OSBI with a little over 6,000 reports of targets to Oklahoma children online last year. What is even more concerning is it’s only getting worse.
“The number of tips we received in December 2022, compared to January 2023, it was already like 300 or 400 more than we saw. So, I mean, it just continues to be a problem,” said Arbeitman.
Of those over 6,000 tips in 2022, Brook Arbeitman with OSBI said, they referred almost half of last year’s cases to their task force affiliates who have received special training in this area. The other half OSBI investigated, but with that high of a number, OSBI says they’re out numbered.
“We’ve hired new agents, we’ve hired intelligence analysts, we’ now hired people that can like triage because the problem is we’re outnumbered. Even building out the ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) unit with the additional funding, we’re vastly outnumbered. Even with our affiliates, we’re outnumbered,” said Arbeitman.
OSBI said the biggest issue is Oklahoma is adults with child pornography.
“We definitely see adults that are victimizing children, but I would say the vast majority is people just being in possession of it and sharing it,” said Arbeitman.
OSBI also said if your child has access to the internet, they could be a victim of sextortion. Teen boys are being targeted mostly in that area.
“The FBI is reporting that teenage boys are a big area of concern regarding sextortion, which is when somebody has a nude or compromised photo of somebody and then uses that photo against them either to get more photos or for money or gift cards or anything like that,” said Arbeitman.
OSBI says as a parent it is a good idea to check in on your kids and there are resources you can use to talk with your children if they become a victim of internet crimes.
Some of those resources are below:
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children resources
Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program resources