Spike in online child sex crimes prompts urgent warnings from Central Ohio law enforcement | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

Central Ohio law enforcement agencies investigating online sex crimes involving children say they are seeing a spike in cases.

“We are seeing an increase there,” Franklin County Sheriff Chief Deputy Rick Minerd said. “As far as online communication with young people online, it’s definitely become a problem here.”

ABC 6 recently got a look inside Franklin County’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in the sheriff’s office.

“We try to get whatever is necessary off the device,” a Franklin County detective told ABC 6 on the condition of anonymity. “We are looking for the pictures, the images we are connecting, we are looking for conversations.”

Inappropriate relationships with kids aren’t just happening online.

Social worker Payton Shires, 24, was arrested Oct. 6 and is now accused of having sex with a 13-year-old boy she was counseling.

Just hours after Shires was taken into custody, 34-year-old Mackenzie Sokol, a behavioral specialist at a Dublin education center, was accused of trading suspected nude photos with a student under 13.

Former Bloom-Carroll High School Athletic Director Chad Little was sentenced in March, as part of a plea deal. to 4.5 years in prison after pleading guilty to having sexual contact with a student.

“It’s a sad reality that you have people you have trust in positions, who are taking advantage of young people,” Minerd said.

ABC 6 On Your Side has compiled a list of tips you can follow to prevent your kids from having contact with a predator:

  • Check the apps your child is using.
  • Install parental controls on phones and electronic devices.
  • Watch your child for a change in behavior.
  • Monitor who your kids are communicating with.

“Ask them about their experiences,” Minerd said. “Whether it’s a new teen or meeting with a counselor, ask your child about these experiences.”

A mother who noticed questionable texts on her son’s phone contacted police, who then opened an investigation, which led to charges being filed.

“I am happy that parents are having an involvement with what their kids are doing with their devices ,” the detective said. “obviously very important.”

Authorities urge parents if they notice any change in their child’s behavior to contact authorities immediately.

“Let us look into it,” Minerd said. “That’s what we are here for.”

Click here for more information on the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

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