Oftentimes when Arkansans hear of sexual abuse of an individual viewing explicit images of a child, they are surprised that such behavior could happen in their own neighborhoods or homes. Many parents think something like this could never happen to their child because they monitor their child’s internet usage. Unfortunately, parents and family members could unknowingly be the ones giving pictures to cybercriminals.
“Even what seems to be the most innocent social media post celebrating a day with the family at the pool can unintentionally give pedophiles access to your children,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As parents, we will do everything in our power to protect our kids, but sometimes we just don’t know how. I want to make sure every parent in the State knows how they can keep Arkansas children safe.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to all Arkansans to protect children from these online predators:
- Think twice about posting pictures of children or young family members online, especially photos of children that show a lot of skin. The Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit is warning parents and loved ones that predators will sometimes harvest from social media sites and other online sources to find seemingly innocent photos taken by well-meaning parents of children in swimsuits, dance costumes, or even sports uniforms that are form-fitting or show skin for their own ill-intentioned plans, to trade, or sell for more explicit photographs.
- 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 a phone provider to monitor children’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 photos are not posted 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.
- Encourage children to tell an adult if there is ever a problem online. Photos, along with social media posts and texts are often used to break down young children’s inhibitions to make them more comfortable with the inappropriate behavior. Adults must remember, that if a child comes into contact with an online predator, it is not the child’s fault – the child is a victim.
Arkansans can report child exploitation by calling the National CyberTipline, (800) 843-5678, or visit CyberTipline.com, or in the event of an emergency, dial 911, or a local law enforcement agency. For more information to stay safe online and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at [email protected] or visit ArkansasAG.gov.