Any time you allow your child to connect to the internet on any device, you open a portal that could allow access for a child sex predator.

The danger is real and it’s terrifying.

For the third time, I hosted a New Jersey 101.5 Town Hall Broadcast on the dangers of cyber predators, and what struck me was both how much the danger has escalated, and how sophisticated these predators are in their technologies and approach.

We began the program with Alicia Kozakiewicz. In 2002, she was living in Pittsburgh and was among the first high-profile child abductions linked to cyber access. Her abductor lured her out of her home, grabbed her and chained her in his basement. This didn’t happen overnight.  He had been pretending to be a boy her own age and chatted with her online for nine months.

Law enforcers call this “grooming,” and its how predators turn our kids into prey. They are persistent and relentless. They know how to speak to our kids in their own language. They give them attention. They give them praise. They make them feel good. Their singular goal is to get them outside the safety of the home.

If you think it cannot happen to your kid, think again.  Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni revealed his own daughter was targeted online.

Arrests of cyber predators by the New Jersey State Police will top 360 in 2019. It was half that just three years ago. Experts, however, agree we cannot “arrest our way out of this problem.” The hundreds of arrests are a mere fraction of the number of predators. As parents, we must be vigilant and monitor what our kids are doing online and who they are talking to.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has given special attention to these dangers. He leads an elite task force dedicated to rooting our cyber predators as well as educating parents on both the dangers as well as what we can do to protect our kids.

Recently, I spoke with him in his Trenton office about this issue. Before letting your kids unwrap a new cell phone or gaming system for the holidays, watch the video to see how you can make sure those new high tech toys wont make your child the next victim.

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