NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York’s attorney general has made a startling discovery: Your children may be playing Internet video games with registered sex offenders.
In a move that’s the first in the nation, the top prosecutor is having the predators purged from online networks, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
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Most parents don’t think anything of it. They see their kids playing video games and assume everything’s fine because they’re doing it at home.
But Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Thursday nothing could be further from the truth. Video gaming platforms have become a favorite hunting ground of sexual predators.
“We have to be vigilant in this area because online gaming is not just a digital playground. It has the potential to become a 21st century crime scene,” Schneiderman told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Schneiderman announced a ground breaking initiative called “Operation: Game Over,” in which he has convinced game makers like Sony, Microsoft, Apple and Disney to purge their system of over 3,500 accounts belonging to people who are registered as sex offenders in New York.
“This initiative protects the most vulnerable segment of our population from the most dangerous segment of our population,” Schneiderman said.
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Internet safety expert Stephen Sharon said online networks are a prime spot for sex offenders.
“[Kids] need to understand that their first and last name, their address, their phone number, even their e-mail address, personal information shouldn’t be handed out to a user, even if they think they trust them because they played a lot of hours with them,” Sharon told CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez.
“Operation: Game Over” coincides with sexual predator incidents in New York. Earlier this month, Richard Kretovic, who lives in a neighborhood near Rochester, pled guilty to sexual abuse charges. Schneiderman said Kretovic “used voice and text chat functions on the popular gaming system Xbox live to lure and assault a 12-year-old victim.
Advocates said it’s important that parents warn kids that this could be going on.
“Teenagers look for love, attention and affection in the wrong places,” said Laura Ahern, the executive director of Parents For Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims’ Center. “A 14-year-old would be surprised to learn that the person they’re chatting with is a 65-year-old male or female registered sex offender.”
The move by the attorney general is just the first step. There are 33,000 registered sex offenders in New York and 800,000 nationwide. He wants all of them off gaming platforms.
In New York, sex offenders have to register all their e-mail and other social media addresses with the state. Failure to do so is a felony.
Do you let your children play video games with strangers online? Let us know below…