GREENSBORO, N.C. — Thursday Greensboro Police took action against a rising crime in our community, online predators targeting children.
In 2019 the city had 97 reports and in 2020 there were 146 internet crime reports.
To bring awareness, the police department put on a 'Keeping Kids Safe Online Webinar. '
Parents got the chance to speak with detectives and get tips from a mental health experts on how to deal with encounters with online offenders.
The virtual zoom discussion was open to any parent interested.
Detective Rom Hoontrakul shared tip with parents to keep an online predator from reaching their child.
“Go into their devices and monitor what they're doing," Hoontrakul said. "Some things you can do when setting up new devices for your children you can register your e-mail to that phone so any notification that comes through the device alerts the parent.”
Detective Hoontrakul said in Greensboro they're seeing predators reach out directly to children online.
Kids cyber bulling other children to send private content is also common.
“I would strongly encourage parents to maintain their vigilance with their children and their activity to see exactly what it is they're using," Hoontrakul said. "Often times when we do have these conversations with their children about safety they have no idea what their kids using or had no idea their kid was going through a hard time or exhibiting certain behaviors."
Experts said isolation and becoming overly dependent on a device are signs a child could be involved with an online predator.
If the signs are ignored, what starts out online could lead to in-person meet ups.
“Predators victimize them and convince them to share private content of themselves such as videos or images and they can be shared infinitely especially on the internet or it could lead up to physical meet ups," Hoontrakul said.
These encounters are on the rise nationwide, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children from 2019 to 2020 online predators have increased 97.5%.
A great resource for victims locally is Guilford County’s Family Justice Center.
There are tons of programs and counselors who can help children get through any traumatic event involving cyber crimes.
To report an internet crime contact the Greensboro Police Department.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a cyber report tip line, red flags to look out for and educational resources for victims and families.