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Police say children, teens are manipulated by online predators

Police say children, teens are manipulated by online predators (File Photo)

A bill from Texas Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) designed to protect children from online predators has been signed into law.

The measure continues funding for the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, which was established in 2008.

The Amarillo Police Department (APD) says it is important to be aware that predators are out there. APD does work with the ICAC task force, but sometimes these crimes can be hard to track.

Social media is constantly growing.

"We live in an inherently dangerous world and it's our job and our responsibility as parents to try and protect our kids as much as we can," said Brady Clark, father of three. "But there's so much unknown and there's so much we can't control."

Clark has two teenage daughters. He monitors their social media usage to make sure they are staying safe. He says one of his daughters plays online video games and through chat rooms she can talk with other players.

"She being a kid was talking to some other people that she was like 'oh no they're fine. They're my age.' But we had to really set a standard and take that away," said Clark.

APD says they are seeing a lot more meetings between people who have met online. And predators can pose as anyone online.

"When our children are falling victim to this, they're meeting an adult who is pretending to be younger," said Officer Jeb Hilton with APD. "Once they've made friends with them, made them feel comfortable, then they can possibly meet them or get them to just send them pictures or videos."

Hilton says it is important that parents set guidelines.

"We're having children that are being manipulated into sending pictures and doing things that children wouldn't normally do," said Hilton. "So as a parent, we need to watch our children and make sure that they're keeping an eye on what they're doing online."

"Just try to give them a good perspective, educate them, not scare them, but just let them know the dangers of certain things and how to protect themselves and how to make wise choices," Clark said.

And certain applications do track location. Hilton says there is a location finder on pictures that you take on your smarphones, so he says to be careful when sending out pictures.

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