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A 20 year old man has been soliciting my 11 year old son online.

Question: 

Dear Stop It Now!,

I need to report a sex crime against my 11 year old son. A 20 year old man befriended my son through a messenger service. It started as just them being friends and quickly escalated to getting my son to feel bad for him. This man proceeded to talk to my son sexually, telling him he loved him, and called him his boyfriend. This man shared masturbation videos with my son and prompted my son to do the same. We live in Utah and the local police said to contact Maryland. How do I go about this?

Response: 
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Dear Concerned Parent,

Thank you for contacting Stop It Now! regarding the sexual interaction between a 20 year old man and your 11 year old son. It must be difficult and scary to find out that this happened, but I’m glad that you and your son have a trusting relationship, and that you’re looking towards next action steps.

Reporting Online Crimes Against Children
It is important to know that we are not a legal, investigative, or reporting agency. However, I would strongly urge you to make a Cybertipline report. Cybertipline, funded by National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, is one way to report online crimes against children, and it will be passed on to the authorities for potential investigation.

To make a report, after you click the “Make A Cybertipline Report” button, select the categories relevant to your situation; under What are you reporting? it sounded like you may want to choose “Online Enticement of Children for Sexual Acts,” then under Where did the incident occur? You may want to choose “Chat/Instant Messaging,” and then fill out the rest of the form to the best of your ability.

The more detailed you can be, the more helpful it will be to your report. You may want to include any saved messages your son has on his phone from this man as well. This report can also be made by dialing 1.800.THE.LOST or 1.800.846.5678.

Reporting to Local Police
If you have detailed information about this man’s whereabouts in Maryland, you may also want to contact his local police station. Doing a simple internet search should give you the information of the local police, if you know the county or town he lives in.

Active Communication as a Key To Safety
It’s great that your son spoke up and let you know what was going on. Keeping the lines of communication open and letting your son know that he can come to you with any concerns is one good way to foster a trusting relationship. Taking the time to talk and to listen are both major aspects when considering safety. It is important that parents and children have the tools they need to stay safe both online, and in the real world.

Speaking to your son often about healthy sexuality as well as letting him know about risks he may be exposed to online will help him stay informed, make good decisions, and better realize when he may be in a compromising situation. It is important that children feel comfortable talking about any difficult or scary experience they have online with a safe an trusted adult.

Internet Safety Tips
Moving forward, you may find some of our resources on Preparing For Internet Safety helpful. Youths should understand that, unfortunately, someone who seem harmless may actually have harmful intent. Adults should always monitor children’s interactions online, as well as on any console they have, and on any mobile phone they have access to. Parents sometimes choose to give their children guidelines for technology use, some of which may include that the parent approves any new online “friend” the child makes.

You may want to go over some of these safety tips with your son, and also check out some of the following resources:

I appreciate you looking out for your child’s safety, and taking further proactive steps to ensure the safety of other children as well.

Take care,
Stop It Now!

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Last edited on: June 19th, 2017