Law enforcement officials warn of predators targeting children using internet to learn

Investigators say parents should closely watch children’s internet habits

KERRVILLE, Texas – Local law enforcement officials say they’re worried the recent push to get children connected online for education could lead them to hidden dangers involving sexual predators.

In just 48 hours, a team of investigators, including Kerr County Sheriff deputies, helped bring in several suspects in an online sex sting targeting minors.

Kerr County Sheriff’s Office investigator Jonathan Edwards says online dangers have increased since many students have been pushed to do their learning online. He says it’s crucial that parents know what’s out there.

“Number one is restrict what’s going on with the phone. You know, at least monitor it as best you can,” he said.

Predators are targeting minors who are getting into Tinder, Grindr and other dating websites or apps. Edwards said parents should know how to use the devices they’re handing to their children.

“When it comes to the technology, if you’re a parent and you’re trusting your child with it, you should fully understand what it is that they have in their hands,” he said.

Undercover San Antonio police officers with the cybercrime detail of the Vice Unit say they are seeing kids as young as 8 years old compromise themselves online.

“What we see happening is a level of oblivion by parents. If they would just take an interest or more of an interest in their children’s use of the internet, we wouldn’t have half the trouble that we do,” the undercover officer said.

The SAPD officer said children in single-parent homes or those sharing custody are the ones that are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of predators online.

“One of the things that we see happening also is that a lot of kids of single-parent families, they don’t get that level of attention. They don’t get that level of scrutiny. So they’re kind of free to explore the internet on their own,” the undercover officer said.

“We wouldn’t drop our kid in the middle of the ocean and say, ‘Good luck to you.’ So let’s not drop them in the middle of the internet and say, ‘Good luck to you,’” he continued.

Parents can get help monitoring what their kids are doing online through apps or websites designed to protect children. Click here for some examples.


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About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.