skip to main content

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

play newscast audioPlay

Florida faces lawsuits over its new election law, a medical board fines an Indiana doctor for speaking about a 10-year-old's abortion, and Minnesota advocates say threats to cut SNAP funds are off the mark.

play newscast audioPlay

The White House and Speaker McCarthy gain support to pass their debt ceiling agreement, former President Donald Trump retakes the lead in a new GOP primary poll, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is impeached.

play newscast audioPlay

The growing number of "maternity care deserts" makes having a baby increasingly dangerous for rural Americans, a Colorado project is connecting neighbor to neighbor in an effort to help those suffering with mental health issues, and a school district in Maine is using teletherapy to tackle a similar challenge.

Internet Task Forces Balance Tips, Tech Hurdles in Protecting Kids

play audio
Play

Monday, February 20, 2023   

South Dakota investigators say they're carrying heavy caseloads dealing with internet crimes against children. There's hope new research and pressure from Congress will lead to more tools to protect minors.

Last week, a U.S. Senate committee held a hearing involving social media companies, covering topics like cyber bullying and child exploitation.

The companies were criticized for putting profits before safety.

In South Dakota, Toby Russell - commander of the statewide Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force - said platforms, especially newer ones that come on the scene, can provide offenders new ways to target kids.

"We have seen a fairly significant increase," said Russell, "in online solicitation or enticement-type incidents and investigations."

Overall, he said there's been a nearly 200% increase in tips in the last five years. And a national study released last fall says one in six U.S. children have experienced at least one type of sexual abuse online.

Meanwhile, Russell said these task forces mostly run on federal grants, which aren't sustainable. There are calls for state lawmakers to provide additional funds.

Brent Gromer is a retired ICAC Task Force commander in South Dakota. He said he agrees more resources are needed, noting there's a vicious cycle of how tips are circulated.

Gromer said because of how they're processed through tech companies, there's often little information to go on.

"There's still some viable cases that are in there and there's children that are being abused that are sent through those tips," said Gromer. "It's just that law enforcement is bogged down working through some of these tips that aren't as good and still require the same amount of attention."

The growing caseload and concerns over children's mental health tied to social media platforms have spurred calls for adoption of the federal Kids Online Safety Act. Supporters say it would put in place much-needed safeguards.

Meanwhile, Russell said there are some ways for families to take action.

"Establishing that open line of communication as early as you possibly can with your children," said Russell, "starting when they're young and sort of an age-appropriate progression that parents can take with those conversations."

He also suggested that parents research apps that can help them monitor their child's online activity.



Disclosure: Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault, Education, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
Florida's newest elections law requires that third-party voter registration groups provide mandatory formal signature-matching training to specified persons by the Florida Secretary of State. (Pixabay)

Social Issues

play sound

The moment Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping elections bill into law last week, several voter-advocacy groups filed lawsuits against it…


Health and Wellness

play sound

An Indiana licensing board has fined a local physician $3,000 and handed her a letter of reprimand after she went public about a 10-year-old Ohio pati…

Social Issues

play sound

Groups fighting for children's health are asking Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers to require insurance companies to cover hearing aids and related …


There used to be twice as many marshes and wetlands in Pennsylvania as there are today, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. (Christina Saymansky/Adobe Stock)

Environment

play sound

From conservation to sportsmen's groups, the U.S. Supreme Court is getting plenty of backlash over its most recent ruling, which weakens federal …

Social Issues

play sound

Rural Nebraska could lose on two fronts if two of Gov. Jim Pillen's budget vetoes are allowed to stand. Pillen struck down a second year of …

Smaller and mid-sized farms say due to market concentration and supply-chain issues within agriculture have made it much harder to get their foods to various markets, including schools and restaurants within their own regions. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

Rural development leaders say getting healthy, locally grown food to underserved areas is a challenge in states like North Dakota. They hope a new …

Health and Wellness

play sound

A new report spotlights some of the challenges to accessing behavioral health care for the one in seven Americans who live in rural areas. Kendall …

Social Issues

play sound

On Wednesday, Xcel Energy customers will have a chance to tell the Colorado Public Utilities Commission what they think about the company's request - …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021