MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Special Victims Unit of the State Bureau of Investigation’s investigative unit handles all crimes that encompass any child victimized by the use of technology. Crimes include but are not limited to: child sexual exploitation, dissemination, production and possession of child pornography, cyber bullying and more.
Lieutenant Brooke Walker said the organization is up almost 200 cases this year compared to last year and adds that can unfortunately increase due to the fact that children have open access to the internet.
“I do think Alabama residents need to understand that anywhere there is an internet connection, there’s a child predator waiting to find that child and victimize them just right inside your home, that’s the scary part,” Lt. Walker said. There’s no more of stranger danger and all this other stuff. We have to teach children that it is online, in their hand, in their pocket, in their schoolbag, wherever those smart phones are.”
In 2016, SVU arrested 34 offenders, examined 600 plus pieces of digital evidence and rescued more than 170 children from abusive situations.
As of April 30, 2017, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has arrested 49 child predators, issued 663 subpoenas and rescued eight children.
“I just have to hope that we are getting our message across when every time someone sees a mug shot, that if you’re going to continue this behavior, we’re eventually going to come knocking on your door,” Lt. Walker said. “So, it’s either time to move or put down the electronic device.”
The SBI’s Child Exploitation Unit offers parents/guardians and children to look at the following sites to learn about safer choices on the internet: