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FBI warns parents of online predators | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – The FBI reports an increase in cases where children and teens are threatened and coerced into sending explicit images.

Online predators can be on any app at any time, which is why it is so vital for parents to monitor their child’s screen time but also teach them what to do should someone send them a threatening message.

The way these crimes start is the predator makes the minor believe that they are someone their age interested in a relationship. They earn the minor’s trust and convince them to send revealing pictures. Once the predator has the explicit photographs or video, they threaten violence to publish them if the child doesn’t produce more content. The FBI also sees increased predators threatening to distribute the images if they don’t receive gift cards or money. Springfield police officers say they have seen these crimes since 2017, and most of the criminals are people in countries that do not cooperate with the United States. Officers encourage parents to talk to their kids about online safety.

“First thing I would recommend to parents as a parent myself is to just have an open dialogue and open conversation with your kids,” said Springfield Police Department Public Information Officer Cris Swaters. “You want your kids to come to you as a trusted adult. If they’re online and something makes them uncomfortable, that open line of communication needs to be there between the parent or caregiver and the children or teens.”

Games, apps, and social media accounts are just a few places where children are targeted and encouraged to send explicit images.

Here’s what you need to do to help keep your child safe.

1. Be selective about what you share online. A person can learn a lot about you based on what you share on your social media accounts.

2. Remember that anything you post, text, or share can be made public, and nothing disappears online.

3. Be careful who you trust online; remember, profiles can be faked.

“Tell your kids not to talk to people that they don’t know online,” said Swaters. “You can’t trust anyone behind a screen name online to have your best interests at heart or your kids’ best interests at heart, and your kids and teens need to know that.”

Talk to your kids about if they receive any suspicious messages make sure to tell a trusted adult. If your child is a victim, collect screenshots, photos, and messages and report them to the police.

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National Cyber Security