Online Predator May Be To Blame For El Reno Girl’s Disappearance | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

A 12-year-old girl was reported missing from El Reno Thursday afternoon by police, and remained missing for around two hours.

During the search, police released that she had gotten into a vehicle with a man and woman, who they believe she met online.

“I think she went to meet this person at a park,” said the girl’s grandmother, Jeanie Walker. “And it ended up being a grown man.”

The girl was found safe in Weatherford around 5 p.m. and she was returned to her parents.

Two suspects, who were found with the girl, were taken into the custody of police.

Kids’ inherent innocence and curiosity make it easy for online predators to take advantage of them.

“She’s very sweethearted,” Walker said.

Keeping Kids Safe Online

Kids are online more than ever. Between school and entertainment, on average, children spend four to six hours per day watching or using screens and teens average up to nine hours, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

With this increase in computer and online gaming usage, children are being exposed to more information, and inherent dangers, than ever. 

The Problems:

An unsupervised child on the internet could see violence, stunts, sexual content, negative stereotypes or racism, substance abuse, cyberbullies or predators.

While there are many platforms that are safe and even have positive influences for children, it is important to stay involved in a child’s internet usage.

Parent Involvement: 

One way to stay involved with your child as they use the internet is to do activities together with them. Online games often allow for more than one user and can allow interactivity between users. This could allow anyone to talk to them, so why not let it be you.

Another way to stay involved is general supervision, this could include checking their social media profiles, gaming profiles, or even internet history.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recommends monitoring who your child is chatting with. There are many games that allow direct or group messaging, not to mention social media direct messaging or chat rooms. In general, your child should know who they are messaging outside of internet platforms in order to verify their identity.

Designated Space:

The CISA recommends having computer designated areas. This is easier with a desktop, because it is stationary. But laptops, tablets and phones can be taken anywhere, away from supervisory eyes.

By setting a rule for your children that keeps devices in public areas, it should allow guardians to supervise their child and have a general understanding of what their kid is taking in.

‘Stranger Danger’:

Most people are aware of ‘stranger danger,’ but the rule applies online as well. As a child explores the internet, they may be approached by strangers. Just like in person, a child should not engage with the stranger and should alert an adult as soon as they can.

Guardians should share the online ‘stranger danger’ philosophy with their children and make it just as ingrained in their internet habits as it is when they are on a playground.

Parental Controls:

Parental controls are available on internet browsers and ISPs, along with certain apps. Parental controls allow guardians to restrict what can be viewed on devices, often password protected so children can’t change it.

For more information on parental controls click here.

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