This morning is the final part of our series on child exploitation.
Today the investigators who have dedicated their lives to these cases offer advice to other parents.
On how to protect their kids from becoming victims.
Brandi’s here this morning, and parents haven’t watched the different parts of this series; that’s okay because Brandi, you’re saying today’s message is the most critical information.
Today’s episode is the one to catch for parents because, as we said, you know these investigators, a lot of them have been doing this for a long time.
The investigators have also been raising kids simultaneously, so they’ve been able to take what they’ve learned, unfortunately, through these cases and apply it to their kids and how they raised them.
So we were hoping they could offer some excellent advice for parents on how to protect their kids.
Like it or not, it starts with their cell phones.
I can’t think of any more significant threat in their day-to-day lives, not one.
A cell phone allows millions of people to have access to your child without your knowledge.
Millions! When was the last time you looked at your kid’s phone? Look to see what apps they are using and why the particular app takes pictures and deletes the images within ten seconds.
Why is it your child needs this app? Along with those apps are people who are looking for kids and know how to exploit those kids.
There may not be two better people to offer this warning than Seattle police Captain Mike Edwards in King County and senior deputy prosecutor Cecelia Gregson both part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
I am asking the court to impose a 38-month prison sentence.
Officer Edwards and Gregson both have dedicated their lives to cases involving child exploitation.
More importantly, they are also parents.
My children don’t have access to unlimited devices, and they will not have phone applications.
In all the cases they see, there is one type that should be the most concerning.
Every day teens and their families see an emerging trend.
You start with someone contacting your child on one of those apps or social media accounts, Where child predators can pretend to be anyone.
Before long, they start making requests to get the preteen to take in a self exploitive image.
Now is when extorting the child begins.
Once the predator has one photo, it begins.
The picture then can be used as leverage to more and more threatening to post it publicly if the predators do not get what they want.
The kids got into this devastating pit even to the point of the child committing suicide.
Yes, I wasn’t sure, but yes, it can get that extreme.
As investigators and parents, the question they get from other parents is, “what do I do? How do I protect my child?” You do need to be involved.
Sergeant Carlos Rodriguez is with the Washington state patrol’s missing and exploited children task force.
Their assignment is to track down and arrest child predators.
Work that has changed the way he parents his teenagers, and it has made me, I think, a better parent.
I am just looking out for kids as a whole.
When you see what’s out there, one of the conversation pieces with children needs to be if someone has convinced you to do something that you wish you hadn’t, you will not be in trouble with me.
If you tell me that you need help because this person will send this image to all your friends on Facebook, it will help if you had the conversation.
Just like I mean, if I were to ask you, what do you do before you cross the street, I look both ways.
You need to have the same type of conversation with this what’s on the internet.
What’s out there? Basic 101, be a parent, and you missed “part one and part two” of our series.
You can find them on our website q13 fox cam.
If you didn’t know, the Washington state patrol’s missing and exploited children task force we have documented throughout this series is run in part by donations from the public.
So if you’re interested in helping, you can find a link on how to help them out with the critical work they’re doing.
It’s different today than when we were kids.
We used to be in AOL chatrooms.
I don’t know if you guys were aloud on AOL chat rooms in your house where your parents could monitor the computer screen.
You have a lot of kids out there who carry cell phones are around everywhere.
They could be sitting across from the kitchen table with you chatting with a predator on one of these apps and not even know to who they are talking.
They don’t want you to have recommended apps to stay away from well, there are some, and you heard Captain Edwards say, you know that app?
The app you take a picture, and it deletes in 10 seconds.
Why do you need an app that does this?
We see Snapchat. It is similar to that, and I have Snapchat.
I use it for work, but if you’re talking about exploited kids.
Know, it can be a cute boy or a cute girl.
If the child sends them suggestive photos, the predator keeps the photo.
Then will use the picture to extort them.
Extortion happens all the time; it’s happening more and more often to kids everywhere.
You need to make sure that you are looking at each app on their phone and deciding is there any value in this app to your child’s life?
And if the answer is no, maybe they should not have this particular app.
Yes, the parents have to be a parent, and you know not the best friend. You’re not the best friend you have to parent situation, so I don’t know how tough it is so you decide what works for you, but there’s some advice from those investigators’ good advice, Brandi.
By Brandi Kruse Published December 9, 2016, FOX13 News Seattle Washington KCPQ