FBI task force social media session for students and parents | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

Teens at New York high schools have the FBI paying them a visit.

Students say it is a little scary, but not in the way you may be thinking.

Schools around New York are collaborating with the FBI child exploitation and human trafficking task force, which includes numerous agencies. This week’s presentation was by the New York State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

School leaders and the FBI want to stop “sextortion” before it starts.

“They’re children; even our juniors and seniors are children. It’s very difficult to see them go through emotional issues that they really never had intended to,” says Bishop Ludden Principal Michael McAuliff.

“[We’re] letting them know that who they’re talking to isn’t always who they think they’re talking to, that they can be a victim very easily of a lot of different nefarious activities that happen,” says Sarah Ruane, a public affairs specialist with the FBI Albany field office.

Presenters were direct with all the presentations, tailoring the content according to age group. They addressed to parents in a separate session why any child or teen would agree to share compromising pictures in the first place.

A few reasons were given, including the offer of money or new phones.

Some of the students say they did learn things they were not aware of.

“I learned that they like take your picture and send it to other people. So, I learned that and that they will like to try to be your friend when they’re not actually who they say they are,” says Kaitly, an eighth grader.

In one case, the FBI says criminals threatened a girl, saying he would hurt her and bomb her school if she didn’t send pictures.

Task force members say predators are cunning and persistent. They use flattery, bribery or threats on young victims who may not see through the approach.

Victims don’t ask for help, they added, because children have done something that may be generating feelings of shame and embarrassment. The FBI added the attacks on boys is growing at a rapid rate, with them more likely to share a nude photo of themselves. They stressed that teens are seen as the victims in these kinds of crimes.

So how can you protect your kids? Officials recommend parents take phones away at night. That is when most incidents occur, they say. The task force urges random phone checks and questioning when photos are posted online.

The FBI wants you to screenshot or screen record all correspondence with and the profile of a potential predator. Immediately contact police or the FBI before deleting or blocking anything.

They add that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Kids offers a free service to try to remove explicit images from wherever they might be shared or posted, called “Take It Down.”

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