APD: Most online predator cases come from sites, apps, games that don’t seem dangerous

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Abilene Police Department (APD) provided tips to keep your kids safe from online predators at a community meeting Thursday night.

Chief Stan Standridge and Sergeant Jason Haak with APD, along with Lieutenant Christopher Milliorn from the Cyber Crimes Unit, delivered tips while detailing specific case studies in which online child predators targeted young children.

Lt. Milliorn said that one key to keeping your kids safe is knowing how to use your phone safely before giving it to your children to use. For example, he says that children who use Snapchat will often set up “your eyes only mode,” which requires a password in order to see what’s been sent. He says that if you didn’t set up that feature and your kid says they didn’t set it up, they’re most likely lying to you because they don’t want you to see what they’re doing, which is a red flag.

In the case of a male daycare worker accused of child sex crimes, Lt. Milliorn said it was common for some parents to be hesitant to question his motives just because he was a man, but that “It’s better to say something and be wrong then to not say something and be right.”

Another case study detailed a 9-year-old girl who was on Amino, an app where people can chat about similar interests, so she could talk about Littlest Pet Shop. Although it seemed innocent enough, an adult male made a profile, friended everyone in the group, began conversations, and sent and requested pictures. As he continued speaking to the young girl over a period of time, he began asking her to model for him, grooming her because he knew she would do what he asked, until he eventually asked her to pose nude.

Lt. Milliorn said it’s important to make sure your kids understand that just because you’ve talked with someone online, that doesn’t mean you’re “friends,” and that a friend can only be someone you’ve met and spoken to in person.

They also detailed case studies involving other apps, games and websites, including YouTube, Fortnite, and TikTok, as well as email, texts and phone calls in which children were targeted by online predators. Often times they say predators will chat with kids on children’s apps or games, and then try to get them to join them on another app or social media site where they can begin the grooming process.

Lt. Milliorn said most cases come from something that doesn’t look dangerous.

To see the entire community meeting, watch the attached video.

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