Recently a Biloxi man was taken into custody and charged with sexual exploitation of children and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The would-be sexual predator allegedly lured teens to his residence using fake social media profiles.
Biloxi Police Department Sergeant Donnie Dobbs said Bruce Kearney Burks, 56, was initially arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor after investigators discovered the man had purchased a bus ticket for a 16-year-old runaway in Illinois, explains WLOX.
The unnamed teenager was intercepted while on a bus in Indianapolis, Indiana as it trekked to Biloxi, Mississippi on his way to stay with Burks.
Following Burks’ arrest Mississippi authorities uncovered sexually explicit texts and several nude images of teenage boys on the man’s personal cell phone.
In order to contact and lure teens to his home, Burks created fake social media profiles on sites like Facebook and KIK Messenger, portraying himself as a teenage boy.
The Sun Herald states Burks was retained at the Harrison County jail in lieu of a $51,410 bond set by Justice Court Judge Albert Fountain and the Biloxi Municipal Court.
Statistically, per InternetSafety101.org, at least 200 million girls and 100 million boys will be sexually victimized before they reach adulthood. Some sexual solicitations will likely be initiated through social media.
The use of social media, webcams, and smart phones have made it very easy for criminals to meet children and potentially engage in sexual acts. It has also provided a forum for child predators to share images and ideas and to embolden one another.
The Journal of Adolescent Health says in 82 percent of online sex crimes against minors, the offender uses the victim’s social networking site to gain information about the victim’s likes and dislikes in order to groom and establish a connection.
While law enforcement continues to make efforts to find and curb the pursuit of online child predators, parents should take on the safety of their own children by monitoring what social networking sites and chatrooms they visit, use privacy settings, ask about who they interact with online, and if something appears suspect, report it to authorities.
[Photo Credit: Biloxi Police Department]