NEGAUNEE – Law enforcement officials are grappling with a rapid increase in troubling trends like online grooming and live-streaming child sexual abuse in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Lieutenant Mark Giannunzio from the Michigan State Police Computer Crimes Unit, encourages parents to speak with their children about the safe use of the internet and to monitor their time at the computer. 

Online child sexual abuse has grown exponentially during the pandemic. Global reports of suspected sexual child exploitation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children increased 106%.

Lt. Giannunzio says there’s been multiple arrests of online sexual predators this year in the UP.

“Most of these are sexual predators that are trying to find an innocent young victim that doesn’t know any better,” claimed Giannunzio.

“We are actively trying to capture these internet predators but ask parents to stay involved in their children’s digital world.”  

To parents who suspect an internet predator is attempting to make contact with your child, Lt. Giannunzio advises to not try to handle this on your own and to call your local authorities right away. 

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provides a comprehensive list of resources and information to report possible child exploitation on their website at http://www.missingkids.org

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