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Florida minors targeted by online predators

Florida readers may have heard about recent stories involving Internet sex crimes, such as online stalking or solicitation. However, new research suggests that teenage girls may be particularly at risk for these crimes.

The research didn't disclose the reason for that demographic result. However, teenagers of both genders are using social media sites more than ever before, often posting several times a day. For predators, such sites may provide not only background information about potential victims, but also their exact location at certain points in a day.

Another generational change is that many teenagers seem more willing to agree to meetings arranged online. Research shows that perhaps as many as 30 percent of girls agree to in person meetings with someone they met online. In many cases, parents discover too late that their child was a target of an online sex crime.

The number of online sex cases is also increasing. One detective reports that the rising volume of complaints required a new position to be created for him. His job is now very specialized: his only job is to track down online predators targeting minors.

One thing that hasn't changed is that the predator is often already known to the victim, such as a school connection or family friend.

With the manpower many local authorities assign to targeting Internet sex crimes, anyone charged with this type of offense will likely be facing steep penalties, and require an aggressive defense. A criminal defense attorney specializing in Internet sex crimes will know whether police and prosecutors have adequate evidence, as well as the best strategy for mounting a defense.

Source: myfoxaustin.com, "Online solicitation a growing problem among teens," Feb. 4, 2013

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