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East County News Service

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January 28, 2021 (San Diego) – District Attorney Summer Stephan warns that students spending more time online due to distance learning and COVID-19 are a captive audience for would-be human traffickers making contact on social media.  So it’s important to educate children to prevent them from falling victim to predators. 

These red flags are common with some adolescents that should be taken seriously:

  • Teenager or child may be acting secretive of their online activities
  • Hiding what is on their computer screens
  • Out of sight or behind a closed door when online
  • Vague talk of making new friends with little to no details
  • Agitated behavior when answering their phone or needing to take calls in private
  • Sneaking out of the house and/or untruthful about who with/where
  • Dressing/wearing make-up to look older
  • They get home late
  • Unexplained expensive gifts/money/clothes

What can parents/guardians do to protect children online?

Parents/guardians are also on the frontlines when it comes to all forms of child abuse and exploitation, whether online or in person - children and adolescents often do not feel vulnerable or understand and appreciate what risks they may face form online or in person victimization. 

FBI Recommendations to Parents:

  • Review and approve games and apps before they are downloaded.
  • Make sure privacy settings are set to the strictest level possible for social media, online gaming systems, phones and other devices.
  • Monitor your child’s use of the internet and keep computers in a non-private room.
  • Explain to your child that images posted online most likely will remain on the internet permanently.
  • Teach your child about personal boundaries and awareness of their surroundings.
  • Encourage open child-parent communication around internet safety. 

Click here to read some important recommendations from the FBI, to help parents keep their children safe online.

WATCH: DA Summer Stephan provides tips for parents, here.

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