JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A meeting with local, state and federal authorities to combat crimes against children will take place this week in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville City Council Member LeAnna Cumber, who represents District 5, is a mother of two children. Her eldest is about to turn 10 years old and loves to play games online.
“It’s much more complex to be a parent. I wanted to see what he was doing and I noticed he had 50 friends. We have the computer in the kitchen, we try to do all the things parents are told to do, and so I said, ‘Who are these people?’ So we started going one by one. He knew exactly one of them,” said Cumber, who appeared Sunday on “The Morning Show.”
Cumber admitted she was alarmed.
“I talked to him and I said look, ‘You can’t just friend people.’ And that’s when we set, in our house, rules: If you have a friend and he’s playing Fortnite or any online gaming, I need to physically know that friend and I need to check with the parent to make sure that handle or whatever it is, avatar, is actually that person,” Cumber told News4Jax. “I want them to know it is critical, as a parent, to have open communication with their child. Check who their friends are. No more would you send your child over to a friend’s house that you never heard of and didn’t know than you should allow your child talking online to someone.”
Cumber organized this week’s meeting with speakers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to talk about online predators and internet crimes against children.
“I thought it was really important not to have just our local JSO there … but also FBI and Homeland Security because they are working hand in hand with local law enforcement to try to crack down on these online predators. They’re chasing it, and, unfortunately, these people who are online and praying on these kids are adapting very quickly and finding new ways to get our children to talk to them,” Cumber said. “So I really wanted to start the conversation, get the word out to parents and to all caretakers, all adults and kids, how people need to be careful because you never know who is on the other side of any phone or texting you or so forth. It’s hard enough for adults to navigate social media, it’s way too much to expect a 7-, 10- or 15-year-old to navigate all the pitfalls of social media.”
The speakers at the meeting will discuss vulnerabilities children from kindergarten to high school face when using smartphones and the internet. Warning signs and safety tips will be discussed too.
The meeting is set for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 23, inside the Lynwood Roberts Room at City Hall. Space is limited, but virtual participation via Zoom is available:
Meeting ID: 955 2678 0175
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