TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — According to Rupert Police Department Detective Sgt. Sam Kuoha, predators online will target just about anybody. He said in his experience, the overwhelming majority of online predators have prior criminal offenses.
He said he has seen an uptick in sexual predators preying on children online during the pandemic, especially over the past six months.
Kuoha works undercover online posing as a child. He said a predator will often target his profile in a matter of seconds.
“When I’m online posing or working undercover, it usually takes me about roughly 30 seconds to about a minute and a half in order to start getting hit online by a predator,” said Kuoha.
According to Kuoha, roughly one in every three children has been preyed upon online.
“It’s shocking every time you hear it, but it’s something that we deal with on a day-to-day basis,” said mother of five Lacy Jo Hill. “That’s why you have to be vigilant.”
Hill, whose children range in age from kindergarten to senior year in high school, said she is aware of and monitors all of her children’s social media accounts. That vigilance is what Kuoha advises, as well. He adds it’s important for parents to be present in their children’s lives as a confidant they can turn to during times of trouble.
Kuoha said the dangers stretch past the internet, as some predators use blackmail, coercion or even extortion to meet up with a child or even lure them into human trafficking.
“Oftentimes, they’re able to coax that child outside of their residence,” said Kuoha. “There’s a lot of luring involved, blackmail and sometimes violence is involved in that where they abuse the child to the point the child doesn’t believe they have any choice.”
Kuoha said the onus is on adults to protect the children.
“If we as the adults, as parents and as a society don’t step up to the plate and protect our children, this is what we’re creating. We’re breeding predators at a significant rate,” added Kuoha.
He said parents should additionally be mindful that some apps like Snapchat were created with the purpose of hiding information from others.
Snapchat is one of the most widely used social media apps by children.
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