Project Safe Childhood

By Julie Montanaro
March 23, 7:20pm

Pedophiles and sexual predators who do their dirty work online may soon find themselves snared in a broadening police net.

Some of Florida's biggest brass are teaming up to track them down and punish them. They've released a new public service announcement that targets teenage girls.

Studies show more than a third of teens who use the internet regularly have posted their names, phone numbers and ages online and one in seven can expect to be solicited for sex in cyber space.

"The growing threat of sexual exploitation crimes committed against children through the Internet is a disturbing and unacceptable trend," said U.S. Attorney Gregory Miller of the Northern District of Florida.

Miller and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum teamed up with local law officers to announce "Project Safe Childhood", promising more vigorous prosecution of pedophiles and predators in the federal system and harsher penalties now in the pipeline in the Florida Legislature.

McCollum asked Florida lawmakers to fund an additional 50 investigators for his Cyber Crime Unit.

"What we need to do is get these new laws in place, get new people in the field so we can work in all parts of the state, get our subpoenas, search warrants issued and so forth," he said.

So while the long arm of the law is promising to do more to track on line predators, it's also reaching out to teenage girls and their parents urging them to "Think Before You Post " in hopes that fewer girls will take the bait.

Both Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and State Attorney Willie Meggs said that the general public has no idea how prevalent and how graphic the online porn trade is saying they cannot show the pictures or describe the contents in polite society.