Child predators using dating websites to reach kids

Parents warned to look in unexpected places to track child's online use


SAN ANTONIO – It's unusual to hear of a child predator using online dating websites to reach children.

But the local division of the FBI is investigating just such a case.

Its one example of the unexpected places predators can target children.

"Think of it like a directory," said FBI Special Agent Rex Miller. "If you want to end up meeting somebody, if you can post yourself on a dating site, and then from there once someone hits you up and says, ‘I'd like to get to know you better or talk to you more,' you can then point that person to 'Hey, let's meet up on text servicing site or social media.'"

Miller works in the Violent Crimes Against Children Unit within the FBI.

Gaming systems are another examples of platforms on which children can be connected with strangers at any time, anywhere.

"It allows someone to court our children without us ever knowing," said Miller. "We never meet these individuals. We never as parents get to judge their character."

While some parents routinely check their child's text messaging, Miller adds that some apps allow texts to be sent over the Internet.

The content of those kinds of message are not usually included on a phone bill.

So how do parents stay plugged in? Miller said become your own investigator.

"At any moment, walk into that child's room or if they're in the living room say, 'I'd like to take a look at that phone. I provide you that phone for communication, but I reserve the right every now and then to go through that phone,'" suggested Miller. "And if you don't know how to do it, get with somebody that does."

Miller recommends questioning your children about the apps and sites they are using. Then do you own research on those apps and sites to find out if your children are being honest about how they function and to see if there are any complaints surrounding them.

In 2014, a hands-on approach to protecting your children often means getting your hands on your child's technology.

"Protect who you are. Protect that privacy," Miller said. "Because you can't get it back once its out there."

About the Author: