TYLER, Texas (KETK) — With many school districts using online lesson plans or tablets instead of books, children’s online activity increases during the school year.
Grant Permenter is the Supervisor Special Agent for Crimes Against Children Special Task Force for the FBI in Dallas.
“If you’re engaged in online activity with strangers, the probability that something criminal happens to you is very high,” said Grant Permenter.
Special Agent Permenter is reminding people that “stranger danger” does not only apply to meeting someone in a park but also meeting in an online chatroom.
“These perpetrators can put on a persona of whoever they choose to be,” said Permenter. “If they want to be a ten-year-old boy or a 14-year-old girl, that is really easy with the use of technology.”
However, Permenter believes the best way to protect children against predators is by having an open conversation.
“We have to understand that our children don’t have the mental capabilities to make those rational decisions sometimes, and so we want to treat them as a victim,” said Permenter. “Don’t immediately confiscate their phone or start yelling and screaming at them for making that mistake.”
Parents should communicate with the children, monitor their online activity, and report any information to law enforcement.
Taylor Burton works for a non-profit organization that helps fight sex trafficking.
“A 14-year-old girl, she can’t change the actions of this adult wanting to take advantage of her, but she can affect the way she responds and the way she pays attention to her surroundings,” said Taylor Burton.