Last week, several members of the U.S. Secret Service arrived at the Buckner Family Hope Center® at Bachman Lake.
No, the President wasn’t in town. But more than 50 women business leaders from across Texas were.
The women gathered to learn how to protect children from online abuse and exploitation from the experts in the Secret Service, as well as the Grand Prairie Police Department and the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center.
Children in today’s world experience constant online content seeking their time and attention. It can be overwhelming to keep up with what platforms or accounts they’re using. But there’s an extra layer: your child’s safety online.
More than 50% of minors who became victims of sex trafficking met their traffickers through a website or social app. We are living in a time that isn’t limited to just stranger danger while leaving the comfort of your own home.
The recent event was the latest awareness and call-to-action event by Not on Our Watch Texas (NOWTX). The vision of NOWTX is a Texas where children are free from abuse and exploitation. The mission of NOWTX is to secure a brighter future for Texas by providing education, resources and support to prevent online child sexual abuse, exploitation and sextortion.
NOWTX is an initiative of Texas Women in Business and supported by The Governor’s Commission for Women. It was co-founded by Andrea Sparks, Buckner director of government relations for Texas, and LisaBeth Thomas, founder of Texas Women in Business.
The two began working on NOWTX in early 2020. But during the pandemic, as children were increasingly online for school and social purposes, predators followed them there. It soon became clear online dangers to children were growing exponentially.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) statistics reporta 97.5% increase from 2019 to 2020 in reports of online enticement of children (19,174 to 37,872 reports). That exponential growth has continued to grow to 80,524 reports in 2022.
According to NCMEC, online enticement involves an individual communicating with a child (or someone believed to be a child) via the internet with the intent to commit a sexual offense or abduction. This is a broad category of online exploitation and includes sextortion, where a child is being groomed to take sexually explicit images and/or ultimately meet face-to-face with someone for sexual purposes, or to engage in a sexual conversation online or, in some instances, to sell/trade the child’s sexual images. This type of victimization takes place across every channel: social media, messaging apps, gaming platforms, etc.
NOWTX is calling women in business and mothers everywhere to learn about and educate others in ways to protect children from online abuse and exploitation.