ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) -Millions of images of sexually abused children are traded among predators across the nation. Child pornography arrests are on a rapid rise in the state, including in Southern Utah, according to officials at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s not a Southern Utah problem. It’s not a Utah problem. It’s a nationwide problem,” said Barfuss.
More and more cases are being sent to agencies in Southern Utah by the task force that focuses on child predators, Internet Crimes Against Children, also known as ICAC, according to Dixie State University Chief of Police Blair Barfuss.
Barfuss said child pornography has always been a problem in Southern Utah, and the increased arrests are due to greatly increased resources and staff brought on to effectively investigate and arrest online predators.
Many tasks forces have come to Southern Utah this year to conduct undercover online operations, he added, emphasizing that each operation has been wildly successful.
“We have great relationships with all of our partners in the community, in the county, and throughout the state,” said the DSU police chief.
Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Crouse said there’s a greater public awareness in Southern Utah.
Authorities say the internet has provided easy access to both child pornography and children, and predators can easily groom kids via email, instant messaging, and social media apps.
Barfuss recommends parents head to the U.S. Attorney General’s website to find the ICAC homepage and access many resources to guide conversations about child pornography with their children.
Internet Crimes Against Children:
Report child pornography to law enforcement by contacting the ICAC Tip Line at 801.281.1211 or your local law enforcement agency.
Child Abuse: If you suspect child abuse or neglect contact the DCFS 24/7 hotline: 855-323-3237. For more information, visit dcfs.utah.gov.