The Kentucky State Police used its latest episode of KSP-TV to warn parents about the dangers of Internet predators. The video shares an inside look at the agency’s Electronic Crimes Branch and the intricate work that takes place to protect children from online predators.
KSP spokesman Trooper Paul Blanton says the Internet has become an important part of everyday life – for information, communication and entertainment.
“The most technology receptive segment of our population is young people,” Blanton said. “It’s an unfortunate fact of life that along with the many resources the Internet provides there are also online predators stalking our youth.”
Blanton says the problem with the Internet is we can’t see the predators that may be after our children. That’s why he says it’s important for parents to talk to their children about what can happen with strangers on social media.
“Parents need to be open and honest with their teens. They need to tell them about the dangers that are out there. Sometimes we don’t think our teens listen to us, but they do.”
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), there are nearly 750,000 registered sex offenders in the United States. An increasing number of those individuals are using the Internet to find their victims.
KSP Detective Josh Lawson works in the Electronic Crimes Branch and says a majority of victims of Internet-initiated sex crimes are between the ages of 13 and 15 years old.
“The key to safeguarding your children is an open line of communication,” Lawson said. “You want to know who your children are talking to face-to-face. You wouldn’t let them talk to any stranger on the street, especially about intimate things. Why would you let them talk to someone on the Internet about even more intimate things?”
In 82 percent of online sex crimes, predators used the victim’s social media site to gain information about the youth. Only 18 percent of youth use chat rooms, but a majority of the internet sex crimes are initiated in chat rooms.
Blanton says parents need to set ground rules with their children.
“Have the computer in a common room. Know your children’s passwords on social networking sites and talk to your children about what they are doing online,” adds Blanton. “If parents won’t, someone else will and that person could be a sexual predator hiding behind a computer.”
Blanton said he hopes the KSP-TV video segment will be a tool used by parents and teachers to create an open dialogue with young people about the dangers lurking beyond their computer screens.
The NCMEC recommends the website www.netsmartz.org as another valuable resource for parents and educators to utilize when talking to youth about Internet safety.
To view the KSP-TV Electronic Crimes episode, please follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=ie0abjG3ebk
KSP-TV consists of short videos in documentary style format that highlight the inner workings of the agency, giving the public an opportunity at a unique look inside of the agency.