The biggest challenges law enforcement officials face when combating child pornography and stalking is public awareness and informing citizens about how to report crimes, officials said last week at the E-Gov 2000 conference in Washington, D.C.
Despite statistics that show 20 percent of children have been solicited online and 25 percent have received unwanted pornography online, less than 10 percent of solicitations and three percent of unwanted pornography was reported, according to Ruben Rodriguez, director of the Exploited Children's Division of National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"The No. 1 thing parents can do is to get involved, supervise their children, and report anything illegal," Rodriguez said, warning parents of the dangers.
"The same guy you heard about on the playground with the trench coat and candy is now online," he said. "And unfortunately, kids are very trusting creatures."
Because illegal activity covers many jurisdictions - from local law enforcement to the U.S. Postal Service, the two speakers suggested citizens report any illegal activity online at the CyberTipline (www.missingkids.com).
Government officials and parents must also be aware of news groups and Internet Relay Chat, from which stalking and child pornography distribution occur.
Rich Cesarini, special agent for the CyberSmuggling division of the U.S. Customs Service, said the criminals can be caught.
"The perpetrator has a false sense of security because it is online, but he's wrong," he said.