The dangers lurking online continue to be a concern for those raising young families. Click to hear KMZU’s Kristie Cross speak with Livingston County Sheriff Steve Cox:
As technology continues to change, so must the ways in which we keep our children safe from predators. According to Cox, it’s essential for parents to monitor both online and phone activity. “The rule at our house is that cell phones are open books,” said Cox,” They know they’d better not delete anything because we are going to read everything on there from time to time. There is nothing wrong with being a parent and sometimes tough love is best. I don’t want to be one of those parents thinking I wish I knew where my kid is or I wish my child hadn’t been hurt.”
Cox also said it’s important to remember that it’s not only your children’s social media accounts that can be a concern. “I’ve talked with other officers and seen case files from other agencies where a sex offender might cruise the online dating sites looking for a mom that posts pictures of her and her family and really the creep is attracted to the child or children. They are only using the dating service to get close to mom with the real motivation to be closer to the children.”
For those living in rural settings, it’s easy to think they are immune to such activity, but that simply is not the case. “A lot of times it’s easy to think that we are in a small town or county and it’s not going to happen here,” said Cox,” I have personally helped the Carroll County Sheriff and other officials with a guy I can immediately recall that had gone to both Saline and Carroll counties in the recent past and was trying to do things with kids there and he was from Kansas.”
The Sheriff discussed another case which was recently covered on KMZU. “Just last week, a Linn County sex offender was arrested in Adair County,” said Cox,” It’s my understanding that their cyber-crimes task force took the guy down when he thought he was going to have sex with a 13-year-old child. It was a good arrest on a guy that we’ve had in custody for other reasons in the past. This could have happened right here in Chillicothe and it could be in Carrollton tomorrow.”
Tips for keeping your family safe online include:
*Talk to your children about dangers they can encounter as long as they are online. Do not be reluctant to subjects such as sexuality, pornography or pedophiles. Do not consider them taboo.
*Ask your children not to respond to unsolicited emails from people they do not know.
*Make sure your children know that not everything they read on the Internet is true and accurate. Make them aware that not all the people they meet online are trustworthy. Help your children develop their ability of sorting out the information they come into contact with while they are online.
*Establish reasonable online rules and an agreement with your children about Internet usage at home or in other places (i.e. at a friend’s house, at school, at the library, etc.). Print the rules and place them near the computer as a reminder. Monitor the compliance with the rules.
Additional tips and information can be found by visiting the Livingston County Sheriff’s website.