Safer Internet Day reminds parents to 'stay informed' about online predators

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WAUSAU, Wis (WSAW) -- Tuesday, February 11th is known as 'Safer Internet Day' around the globe. Although the internet is sometimes helpful, it can be dangerous for a lot of children.

According to the annual report from Wisconsin Internet Crimes against Children (ICAC) Task Force, the number of tips filled about online child predators in the state is at the highest level ever recorded. Local law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin like to use Safer Internet Day as a way to warn parents to stay informed.

“Sometimes, some of the people who are trying to communicate with your child (online) may not be the person they say they are," explained Detective Lt. Nate Cihlar with the Wausau Police Department. “For parents, it’s knowing what your children have access to on their devices, what kind of apps that they are using, and just being in regular contact with your children when they have internet access.”

Detective Cihlar says in 2019 the Wausau police Department received 15 tips from ICAC which resulted in two arrest for child enticement. The other tips were related to child pornography.

Wisconsin Attorney General, Josh Kaul, stated during a ‘Protect Kids Online’ Department of Justice podcast interview, that this is not uncommon across the state.

“The number of tips we receive has gone up over time regarding tips about internet crimes against children," said Kaul. "We receive tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. That is not a surprise and people are online all the time and criminal activity has shifted online.”

Police say there are many ways to decrease the risk of a child being enticed or solicited online. Staying in communication with them and knowing which websites they frequent and why is one of the most effective ways.