Local agencies look to crack down on sexual predators in schools

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Education and law enforcement officials in Indiana are trying to crack down on the nationwide problem of sexual predators in schools. They’re hoping that a new video can help those taking care of children stop any more incidents from happening.

This week, the Indiana Department of Education along with the Department of justice and the Indiana State Policed released a 12 minute video about how to spot warning signs of child exploitation.

“Our goal here is to raise awareness with the video and to empower the viewer to report inappropriate behavior,” said David Woodward of the Indiana Department of Education. “The ultimate goal then is to eliminate these predators and protect our children.”

The video, in part, identifies three key warning signs for adults to look out for: excess or inappropriate attention, affection or gifts. Experts say either one can be a sign that a predator is “grooming” a child for exploitation.

“Unfortunately some offenders who are sexually attracted to children intentionally put themselves in positions of trust and try to use that trust to sexually exploit a child,” Captain Charles Cohen of the Indiana State Police said.

Cohen says the problem of sexual predators in schools is one that extends far beyond Indiana.

“Unfortunately a month doesn’t go by when we don’t have a report of a teacher, a coach, an administrator who abuses that position of trust to exploit a child,” he said.

While identifying warning signs are a key component to stopping sexual predators, experts say it’s equally as important to report those observations.

“If you see signs of what could be inappropriate behavior, trust your gut and report it. Always report it,” Woodward said.

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