BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Is your child online? If the answer is yes, Baltimore’s U.S. attorney says he or she may be in trouble.
Pat Warren has the latest on a Department of Justice war against online predators.
The Department of Justice Project Safe Childhood is dedicated to doing just what the name says: keeping children safe from online predators.
“It can happen to any child at any time,” said Rod Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney.
One Baltimore County case is one of 200 cases here in recent years where children have become victims of sexual predators who have turned chat rooms into hunting grounds. Last year, Jennifer Rice’s 12-year-old daughter was caught in the snare.
“My child was an excellent child. I had no idea that this was going on. I had something that came over me. She was planning to spend the weekend at a friend’s. I asked her if this what she was really planning on doing. She asked me why I’d ask her that,” Rice said. “I spooked her because she was supposed to meet him at a hotel. She wound up going to a local mall and the sexual assaults happened in a dark movie theater.”
Rice called police and police responded immediately.
“They went to the hotel, found out his name from the front desk, went up to his room, knocked on his door and he said that he was in love with my daughter,” Rice said. “He admitted to everything.”
Law enforcement is lined up behind families like Rice’s in efforts to prevent children from becoming victims.
“If your child is surfing the Internet without supervision, your child is probably viewing pornography on the Internet, your child is chatting with strangers on the Internet, your child is probably chatting with pedophiles,” Rosenstein said.
“I believe she’s learned a lesson, very emotional lesson for her. She’s come a long way,” Rice said. “She’s doing much better.”
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Officials say if you suspect your child is in an inappropriate chat room relationship, don’t hesitate to call police.
Partners in Project Safe Childhood include local police, the FBI, Maryland State Police and Homeland Security investigations.