Child Advocacy Center tracks dramatic increase in cybercimes in 2019

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - The Child Advocacy Center (CAC) experienced another record breaking year in 2019. The CAC served more than 1,753 children in 2019, up from 1,619 in 2018.

Below is a breakdown of the abuse reported in 2019 to the Child Advocacy Center.
Sexual Abuse - 1,106 (35%)
Physical Abuse - 720 (22%)
Witness to a Crime - 800 (25%)
Neglect - 246 (8%)
Drug Endangerment - 252 (8%)
Child Exploitation - 63 (2%)

Experts at the CAC said they are also seeing a dramatic increase in the number of cyber or internet crimes. "The consequence of that is that those cases are very complex and that one perpetrator is probably perpetrating on many, many children," began Linda Saturno, the Executive Director of the center. "Anything that's connected to the internet, it's possible for a perpetrator to get to your child."

Saturno said they've found a surprising number of kids who are playing games that off start innocent, but end up having pornographic material in them. "We actually had a four-year-old who had seen pornography with robots having sex," said Saturno. "It's extremely concerning and for parents it's really, super scary."

Saturno said this means children could be introduced to those types of relationships earlier in life and perpetrators can be using these games as a new tool for grooming.

Saturno gave a couple of quick tips for parents. First, she encouraged parents to use parental controls. Second, she said parents should be in the same room kids are playing internet games in, that way they can keep a watchful eye on the game and listen to it. Lastly, she said parents should ask open-ended questions about their children's games.

The Child Advocacy Center is working with other local agencies to put together a workshop for parents on internet safety. When that is announced, the KY3 News staff will share that information.