INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana State Police Internet Crimes Against Children educators are warning parents to get tech savvy after recent cases of online predators leading to child molestation.
Last week, police in Shelbyville arrested an Ohio man accused of coming to Indiana to have sex with a girl he met on Facebook. Last month in Muncie, police also arrested a man for having disturbing and graphic conversations online with a teen and attempted to meet up. In both cases, the teens messaged the predators on Facebook.
“Studies show about 47 % of our kids are freely talking to people online and they’re giving out personal out personal information, which sets them up to be victims,” said ISP ICAC Youth Educator, Cathie Bledsoe.
Bledsoe said there’s more than 2.2 million apps to download on Google alone that could all lead predators to children. Apps like Kik and Facebook are common for messaging, but there’s others like musical.ly that are designed for uses other than messaging, but are being used by predators.
There’s also other apps that look like calculators.
“If you put in a certain code you can unlock hidden photos or they claim to be a site for simple messaging, but then they have a way to link to a live chat room,” said Bledsoe.
ICAC does training for schools, teens, churches and even parents who are interested in learning more about social media. Bledsoe said parents can simply Google apps online to find out which ones their kids might be using. She also said parents need to take charge and make sure their kids understand consequences if they talk to strangers online.
“One thing that kids tell me is they won’t give their parents their passwords. That is the biggest mistake a parent can make. Not having access to their kids information. Last time I checked the parents signed the contract to have the phone they need to be actively protecting their children,” said Beldsoe.
You can learn more by e-mailing ICACyouthed@isp.in.gov.