BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) – North Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Agents say it’s important to educate yourself and your children about the dangers online. The FBI says one in seven children is contacted by an online predator, but, due to underreporting, that number could be even higher.
That’s why teachers like Stacy Olson, a library specialist at Rita Murphy Elementary, work with kids from kindergarten through high school about Internet safety.
“Just like we taught stranger danger back in the day, it’s really just modern-day stranger danger,” said Stacy Olson, library media specialist at Rita Murphy Elementary.
Children are often taught which online platforms they can and cannot use.
“YouTube and social media,” said Kleigha Guthmiller, a first grader.
“My parents won’t let me,” said Jude Beckman, a first grader.
“Setting boundaries is a good idea, setting time limits, knowing what your kids are up to, even having them in the same room. Because sometimes you might hear something that you think, ‘oh, that’s not quite right,’ that kids may not understand,” said Olson.
Parents say the conversation about online safety has evolved over the years.
“Making sure she’s safe on social media, on the internet, has been a major priority of ours,” said Tricia Brown, a parent.
Children of all ages have many questions and some of the answers.
“I can’t use TikTok or Snapchat,” said fourth grader Karisma Brown.
“Do you know why you can’t use those two platforms?” Your news manager asked.
“I’m not really sure. I know there are some inappropriate things on TikTok,” said Karisma Brown.
Karisma says she talked about internet safety with her mom.
“I don’t want her to feel that I don’t trust her. And so that was the new navigation as far as being open. We have these conversations and I ask questions, trying not to condemn or lecture,” Tricia Brown said.
Task force agents who investigate predators who target children say crimes happen on whatever online platforms children use. The platforms change frequently.
“We have to try to understand the system and what can be sent, what can’t be sent, the data that we can get from that system to try to locate the perpetrator, things like that,” said Chief Agent Steven Harstad with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Surveys.
As advice flows in from service providers, agents say they are able to catch many of the perpetrators. However, they say, while your children are learning the benefits of using the internet, pay attention, be involved and have good communication.
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program and 61 Task Forces across the country work to provide investigative assistance to parents, educators and prosecutors to catch criminals and prevent these types of crimes. For more information, visit: ICAC – Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (icactaskforce.org).
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