Internet crimes and online bullying are becoming a raised concern as youth internet usage drastically increases. A study by Crimes Against Children Research Center showed that almost all youth (97%) were using the Internet from home, up from 74% in 2000 and almost half of youth (47%) were using the Internet from cell phones. The study also shows that unwanted sexual solicitations continue to decline from 19% in 2000 to 9% in 2010, however we have seen an increase in online harassment from 6% in 2000 to 11% in 2010.
The Office of the Indiana Attorney General is working diligently to protect Indiana’s youth in response to the increasing number of teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims.
On July 1, 2008, a law took effect which prohibits a registered sex offender convicted of certain crimes involving children from knowingly using social networking web sites, instant messaging programs or chat room programs the offender knows include children. The Office of the Indiana Attorney General was an advocate of this new law and helped legislators craft the language for the state statute. First time violators of this law face a potential jail sentence of six months to three years. If the sex offender violates the law again, the charge would be elevated to a Class C felony, which carries a two to eight year sentence.
In addition, the Office is collaborating with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to offer the NetSmartz Workshop (http://www.netsmartz.org/). This site contains a wealth of tools and resources to help educate youth, parents and educators about Internet safety.