The Internet has changed our world forever. We have unlimited access to news, shopping, online communities . . . the list is endless. When used responsibly, it is a great asset in our daily lives but like anything else, there are people whose intent is to use it to victimize or manipulate others. According to a 2018 Pew Research study, 59% of teens reveal that they have been the target of some form of cyberbullying, with name calling and rumor-spreading being the most common forms of harassment. This type of behavior has gone on since the beginning of time but smartphones mean that this can become a nonstop part of a teen’s life. The manufacture, distribution and possession of child pornography, which used to be a very secretive “underworld” industry, now thrives because the Internet has made it so easily accessible. Social networking sites and unsupervised Internet usage have created an open forum for predators who seek contact with our children. The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force program was created specifically to enable state and local law enforcement agencies to develop an effective response to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and crimes against children.
The ICAC program, established by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1998, is a national network of 61 regional task forces, representing over 4,500 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. As the lead law enforcement agency for the KYICAC, the Kentucky State Police has dedicated investigators, forensic examiners and administrative personnel who work closely with our affiliate agencies on this initiative. Our mission to implement an effective response to these crimes has several components: the ability to investigate and prosecute offenders; the analysis of digital evidence seized as part of these crimes; and Internet safety education providing information on appropriate online behavior and how to report crimes when they occur.
The KYICAC works alongside some very important partners in response to these crimes. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) exists to assist law enforcement and the public to recover missing children and combat child sexual exploitation. Accessible to the public, NCMEC’s CyberTipline can be used to report any type of child abuse – from child pornography to child molestation to child sex trafficking. After a preliminary analysis at NCMEC, a report is generated and sent to the ICAC Task Force in that jurisdiction, at which time it will be assigned to an investigator. In addition to the CyberTipline, the NCMEC website provides numerous resources relating to public awareness, education and other issues relevant to child safety.
 A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of cyberbullying, Pew Research Center, September 2018. https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/09/27/a-majority-of-teens-have-experienced-some-form-of-cyberbullying/, accessed August 29, 2019.