One of the hardest thing for a parent is knowing that there are predators out there who seek to prey on them.  Keeping our children safe is a parent's top priority. That's why recent police operations in San Angelo are very disconcerting

Photo: San Angelo Police
Photo: San Angelo Police
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The San Angelo Police Department conducted an operation to catch adults who troll for minors online.  During the latest sweep, April 21, 22nd, and 23rd, a joint operation with the Department of Homeland Security, DPS, Abilene Police Department, BIg Spring Police Department and Goodfellow Air Force Base NCIS/OSI arrested 8 people on charges of soliciting a minor.

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This was just one three day sweep.  Adults who target underage minors are constantly operating in our area and across the country.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
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The statistics are very alarming.  One in five children every year will receive an unwanted solicitation online, The NSPCC Head of Child Safety Online Policy says by their estimates an average a potential of 90 potential online abuse crimes against children happen every day.

The Department of Justice reports that close to 300,000 American youth are currently at risk for becoming victims of exploitation. The best data suggests at least 100,000 American children are victimized this way which is more than people who die from car accidents and illegal drugs combined.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash
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When you consider that 93% of teens 12-17 are online.  In 82% of online sex crimes against minors the offender used the victim's social networking site to gain information about their victims.

How can you  keep your kids safe.  The U.S. Justice Department has some recommendations.

Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash
Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash
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Discuss internet safety and develop an online safety plan with children BEFORE they do online.

Supervise your young children's internet usage. Check their profiles and posts to make sure they are not revealing too much personal information.  Keep computers in the common areas of the home and consider setting time limits.

Review games, apps and social media sites BEFORE children use them. Pay attention to apps and sites that feature direct messaging, video chats, file uploads and user anonymity.  These are frequently relied upon by child predators

Adjust privacy settings and use parental controls for online games, apps, social media sites and electronic devices.

Tell children to avoid sharing personal information, photos and videos online in public forums with people they do not know in real life.

Teach children to say "no" to inappropriate requests both in the physical world and virtual world.

Be Alert to changes in how your child uses electronic devices, especially if they try to conceal online activity or shows signs of anxiety.

Tell Children if anyone asks them to engage in inappropriate activity tell a trusted adult immediately.

Report suspected online enticement or sexual exploitation to San Angelo Police also contact the FBI at tips.fbi.gov or filing a report with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.

Sad, bullied or abused boy crying sitting on stairs
Ben_Gingell
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Just pay attention to your children and what they're doing. Make sure they feel comfortable talking to you. Let them know that there are adults out there who might want to do them harm.

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