Dateline
updated 9/13/2006 4:21:45 AM ET 2006-09-13T08:21:45

More than two years ago, "Dateline NBC" began its breakthrough investigative reporting on online sexual predators, revealing a national epidemic and making headlines across the country. Five dramatic hidden camera investigations have exposed 129 suspected predators and now, Chris Hansen is back with another series of reports on men who target young teenagers over the Internet. After chatting online about sex and then making a date, a total of 49 men show up at "Dateline's" undercover houses in the upcoming broadcasts. Like the previous investigations, police arrest potential predators caught on camera. In addition, on Dateline.MSNBC.com, Hansen will participate in a live blog during each of the broadcasts and the site will feature exclusive video footage of his conversations with potential predators. "DatelineNetCrime: To Catch a Predator" will air on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m., and continue on Friday, Sept. 22, Sept. 29 and Oct. 6, 9 p.m. ET.

For the sixth and seventh investigations, Hansen and NBC News set up their hidden cameras at homes in Fortson, Georgia, and Petaluma, California. Members of Perverted Justice, the Internet watchdog group and paid consultants to "Dateline NBC," pretended to be young teens chatting online, ages 12-13 in Petaluma and 13-15 in Fortson. Within hours, adults solicited the undercover operatives for sex.  Some sent graphic sexual images to whom they believed were minors. Soon, many of those same men actually show up at the house for a rendezvous with the child. For these investigations, Perverted Justice teamed up with local law enforcement. After a potential predator was confronted by Hansen and left the house, detectives who had been in contact with Perverted Justice arrested the men.

Most of the suspects confronted by Hansen claim their intentions were innocent, and some even acknowledge that they have seen Dateline's reports on television and still came to the house anyway.  Some of the alarming cases involve prominent members of the community: a doctor, a church director who worked with young teens and two men currently in the military. The hidden camera investigation in Petaluma exposed 29 men in three days, and the hidden camera investigation in Harris County exposed 20 men in four and half days. In both locations most of the men drove for hours to get to the house.

On Dateline.MSNBC.com, Hansen's live blogs will offer a behind-the-scenes look into his role throughout the investigations. The website will feature exclusive video footage of the potential predators and Hansen, general online safety tips from MSNBC.com technology correspondent, Bob Sullivan, and a video of one American family as they take viewers through the steps they took to protect their kids online.

Also available online will be a number of resources for parents including tips to keep kids and teenagers of different ages safe online, links to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, including their "cyber tip line," and a link to the national sex offender registry. As a starting point to keep kids safe online, MSNBC.com offers an Internet safety contract.  With pledges for both parents and kids, this contract encourages families to discuss Internet safety, and agree to abide by these rules when using the Internet. 

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