GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI) – “We have caught people affiliated with churches who were preying on young children. We have caught park rangers preying on children. We have caught regular Joe Schmos who were preying on children. There’s nothing to tell us where we can walk out in public and tell that’s a child predator right there,” said Lt. Tony Cooper.
Lieutenant Tony Cooper, a detective with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, said child predators are moving back to the chat rooms as they did decades ago. But this time, the chatrooms are already programmed into your child’s favorite video games.
“I know in some of these games you can have 20 to 30 people if not more. If you’re playing the game that’s fine. But when it leads off of the game, into these private areas, that’s where the children need to be careful. And if somebody is being inappropriate with them in the game, the parents need to know and need to report it,” said Cooper.
Cheryl Ann Roberson, the investigator with the Monroe County Investigations Division, said “stranger danger” is becoming less common, and cyber concerns are advancing.
“Parents need to prioritize their children’s protection of their privacy.”…The threats against children have significantly moved toward online threats versus in-person threats. A strong sense of anonymity draws one to abandon their ethics. When nobody knows who you are, you can more anonymously commit crimes online. Parents have a responsibility now in 2023, to educate their children about online predators and about the risks of the internet,” said Roberson.
Roberson said parents and guardians need to educate their children on tricks and strategies predators may use.
“Parents can — need to make their children aware of tactics predators use, such as grooming, manipulation, deception, that which children will recognize these and know how to protect themselves. Parents need to set strong boundaries with their children. They need to encourage their children to be assertive. You know, encourage their children to assert their own personal boundaries, knowing that it’s okay to say no when they’re faced with an uncomfortable situation,” said Roberson.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Services, Mississippi ranks third in the country as the state with the most child sex abuse victims per 100,000 children.
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