Recent child sex crimes renew calls for parental diligence

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Investigators are asking for more diligence than ever in preventing children from becoming online predators’ next target. Because numbers, and recent court filings show they don’t stop when school’s out for summer.

“They’re super prevalent and unfortunately they’re not slowing down,” said Jay Ratliff, a special in charge in the Attorney General’s office. The office launched the internet crimes against children task force last year.

“Spring break or fall break, definitely in the summer break, when there’s maybe not as much oversight, you know kids are bored they don’t have homework, those kinds of things, we definitely see an uptick in those cases,” said Ratliff.

Ratliff has been working these types of cases for 13 years, and says it’s only getting worse.

“Over the last five years our office has received about 178% increase in the amount of cyber tips our office receives,” he said.

At least two recent cases in Albuquerque involving predators have something in common—both men primarily used Snapchat to communicate with their victims.

“The more we can do to present evidence other than the child’s testimony is extremely helpful in these cases. And that really is the technology aspect of it,” said Ratliff.

He says keeping an open line of communication, and being aware and involved is the key for parents.

“Providing an environment that is safe for the kid you know when they mess up, when something happens that they can come back and have that open conversation,” said Ratliff. “Some of the grooming behaviors, you know gifting or just things that are odd– and having the conversation with your kids of saying ‘hey these are not acceptable things.'”

Because in experts’ eyes, “It’s not a matter if, it’s a matter of when your child’s going to be solicited online by somebody that they don’t know in person,” said Ratliff.