It’s hard to imagine, but every year, thousands of kids become victims of crime — whether it’s through kidnappings, violent attacks, sexual abuse or online predators. In Ohio, there’s a special unit trying to put a stop to all of that.
The Crimes Against Children Unit is run through the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office.
The initiative is helping local authorities around the clock to investigate and prosecute those targeting children over the internet or in person.
Within the last month, the unit’s Catch a Predator program resulted in several arrests.
“Get a number of people arrested who were on the internet looking to have sex with children as young as 10, 11, 12, 13 years old,” DeWine said.
This group is made up of investigators and prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, as well as members of the BCI who assist local law enforcement agencies when they respond to these calls.
“It takes some experienced people who are used to working with children to be able to work with them and get them through the trauma,” DeWine said.
Most of the cases this unit investigates involve sexual abuse, child pornography, human trafficking and revenge porn, among other things. Oftentimes, the unit will initiate investigations on its own, going undercover online.
“You see the sexual predators, they just come out,” DeWine said.
In the last year alone, the Crimes Against Children Unit investigated cases in 62 of Ohio’s 88 counties. It’s currently investigating cases right here in the Valley.
“Tragically, there are a lot of people out there like this and one of our goals is to get as many of them out of society as we can,” DeWine said.
He said they’re doing all of this in an effort to help local law enforcement catch people who are preying on kids.
It’s an everyday occurrence, which calls on parents to constantly be aware of what their children are doing online.