How often do you tell your child not to speak to strangers? With technology advancing predators are finding new ways to contact your child.
With simple access to internet your child has access to millions of people. Police Investigator Joe Baeza says, “whether it be gaming, whether it be a play station, or if they have an Xbox whatever the case maybe it has access to the internet.”
Officials say predators are no longer the stranger who approaches a child in person. Their new tool is the internet. “It’s not as evil as the face value. Just like you would a predator, the whole issue is stranger danger is taking a new dynamic; it’s not a person with a trench coat, but it comes disguised as a friend,” says Baeza.
Joe Baeza with the Laredo Police Department says speaking to your child about internet safety is as important as talking about ‘stranger danger.’ Mother of two, Rose Flores, says she always tells her kids not to be afraid of strangers but to know the dangerous possibilities. “I do tell them when a stranger does approach them it does not mean they are bad, but for them to telll them “I cannot speak to you unless my mom is here.”
She enforces those same rules when her children use the internet. Flores instructs, “do not chat or speak to anyone unless you have me them in person.”
According to the nation Center for Missing and Exploited Children, last year over 400,000 missing child reports were made. Baeza says predators use hiding behind a screen as a way to present themselves as something your child would be interested in. “Get your child in a location, get them to meet in a social setting that can all happen on the internet,” advises Baeza.
He says to monitor your child’s use and place the computer in a visible place at home. He also recommends parents to always check what website and apps your child is on. “It comes disguised as a person of trust and that’s where the real danger is, because their guard is down. That’s the real danger you don’t see coming.”
Of the more than 10,000 endangered runaways reported in 2014, one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking.