When reports of sexual abuse of a child or an individual viewing explicit images of children emerge, Arkansans often wonder how something like this could happen here. Many parents think it could never happen to their child, because they monitor their child’s phone and Internet use. Unfortunately, though, child predators are using advancements in technology and are finding new ways every day to prey on children and teens.

The Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit reports that predators will sometimes harvest from social media sites and other online sources finding seemingly innocent photographs taken by proud, well-meaning parents of children in swimsuits, dance costumes or even sports uniforms that are form-fitting or show skin and either use the images for their own ill-intentioned plans or trade or sell them for more explicit photographs.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is issuing a consumer alert to educate parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and all adults of ways they could be unknowingly making their child a target of online sexual predators.

No one wants one of the children in their life to be victims of pedophiles,” Rutledge said. “It is time to face the shocking reality that these predators are harming our children and I encourage all adults to use caution and be responsible if pictures of children are posted on social media.”

Rutledge released the following tips to all Arkansans to protect children from these online predators:

Think twice about posting pictures of children online, especially photos of children that show a lot of skin.

Remember that status updates, photos and videos posted on social networks are permanent and once the user posts, it is out of their control, and you do not know where it will end up. Consider purchasing cell phone monitoring services from your provider to monitor your child’s mobile devices.•

Just as children are taught to use strong privacy settings, adults should use the strictest settings that are available to prevent unwanted individuals from seeing images of their children. For example, on Facebook, one of the available privacy settings requires explicit permission from the account holder before he or she can be tagged in a post or picture.

Monitor social media posts from friends to ensure they are not posting photos of your loved ones that could be stolen by people with sinister motives and end up in the hands of a child predator. Many social media platforms allow users to submit complaints regarding problematic posts and to request deletion of posts.

Rutledge reports that these photos, along with social media posts and texts, are also often used to breakdown young children’s inhibitions to make them more comfortable with the inappropriate behavior. Adults must remember though that if a child comes into contact with an online predator, it is not the child’s fault – the child is the victim.

Arkansans can report child exploitation by calling the National Cyber, 800-843-5678, or visit CyberTipline.com.

To report child abuse, call the Arkansas State Police Child Abuse Hotline, 800-482-5964, or, in the event of an emergency, dial 911 or a local law enforcement agency.


Originally posted on Pine Bluff Commercial: Protect children from online predators, AG says