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September 22, 2017

Online Sexual Predators: Warning from OSBI


In our digital landscape, there can never be too many reminders for parents to be internet vigilant when it comes to kids and screen time.

Certainly with a former Luther band teacher facing sex charges involving a 12-year-old student with the state’s evidence involving text messaging, and a Cleveland County youth minister facing charges for inappropriate contact via technology, the warnings bear repeating, as parents and children set up boundaries, rules and accountability for all things digital.

So here is a news release, unedited, with tips from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation:

Summer is here and many children are now home alone with Internet-capable devices. The Oklahoma Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force wants parents to exercise caution when allowing children to use those devices. In 2015, nearly 1,000 instances of child sexual exploitation were reported to the OSBI through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Cybertipline, with each case involving the use of computers, apps, chats, or social media. Parents are urged to consider the following tips:

– Monitor your child’s usage of electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, readers, web cams, and laptops, as well as their usage of apps, games, and social media accounts. Do not allow this usage to be private. Instead, children should use these in open areas of the home, such as the living room or kitchen.

– Although strangers are a threat, oftentimes children are exploited by people they know. A large number of child pornography images are taken by the children themselves and sent to others they know or think they know.

– Utilize device and software parental controls, as well as safety features available for your children’s devices and apps.

Parents are also encouraged to communicate openly about online activity with their children. Young people should be able to identify risky behavior and know what to do if something bad happens. It is important parents and guardians remain approachable about this topic – kids should never fear a parent’s reaction more than they fear the misbehavior and/or consequences of people online.

Ask your child:

– Where do you spend most of your time online?

– What is your favorite app or video game right now?

– Who do you game or communicate with the most?

– How do you decide who gets to follow or friend you?

– What do you share, post, download, upload, and view?

– Can I review your profile with you?

– What would you do if you encounter behavior or communication that makes you uncomfortable?

If your child is the victim of sexual misconduct online or you observe this type of behavior, immediately report the incident to www.cybertipline.com, the OSBI, or local law enforcement.

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