HELENA — In a six-month span, from January to June of 2020, the Montana Department of Justice received 412 cyber tips related to internet crimes against children. In that same span in 2019, the department only saw 244. According to the Montana DOJ, the state is just 50 tips from surpassing the total number of tips they saw in all of 2019.
Per the Montana Department of Justice's press release, "cyber tips are software-detected images and videos of child explicit material with known IP addresses." When a potential tip arises, the internet service provider sends the tip to the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, who then contact local entities to investigate the tip.
The Departement of Justice said they believe the rise in cyber tips is a result of more children spending more time online, whether it be on social media, playing video games, or using apps like Snapchat.
Attorney General Tim Fox said one of the ways parents can help their children understand the threats of online predators is to educate themselves.
"The best thing to do is educate themselves. One of the best programs out there is called Net Smartz, and it's available at missingkids.org. There are all sorts of educational resources there that parents and guardians teachers and leaders in our communities can use," said Fox.
Fox also noted that building a relationship with one's children is important because by having that relationship, children are more likely to report issues with cyber predators.