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SAPD & TXDPS Offer Tips to Better Protect Kids From Online Predators

After two local boys were positively identified as victims of large underground child pornography ring SAPD and TXDPS offer advice for online safety.
Two juvenile boys from San Angelo were among the 251 minors positively identified in Operation Round Table as victims targeted through social media as part of a large underground world wide child pornography ring. The Texas Department of Public Safety and San Angelo Police Department urge parents to be aware of who your child is communicating with over social media. Chief of Police Tim Vasquez advises parents to have full access to the websites and accounts your kids use.

"I can tell you we've had other cases similar to this over the last few years where kids have fallen victims to being conned into believing one thing or something else through Facebook. I think that this case in itself shows that it can happen to any of our kids at any time," Chief of Police Tim Vasquez said.

Parents are advised to keep your home computer in a high traffic area. If a website requires a date of birth it is best not to use it. When using social media
it is strongly recommended to only accept friend requests from people you know. Predators often use false profiles to lure juveniles into exchanging sexually explicit material which is a serious crime.

"Anything involoving a child is going to be a felony and in fact we have laws in Texas...trafficking of persons and by force, fraud or coersion you traffic an adult or take pictures or force an adult into sexually oriented business that's a crime. But anyone under 18 if you're in any way involved with child pornography or child sexual exploitation it's automatically going to be a first degree felony," TXDPS Criminal Investigations Division Captain Brian Baxter said.

If you suspect your child is being solicited by a predator you are urged to report it to your local law enforcement within 72 hours. Child abuse of any kind or child sexual exploitation may be reported at:

www.polarisproject.org

Texas Department of Public Safety
www.iwatch.org

By contacting Homeland Security Investigations by calling 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing the online tip form at www.ice.gov

Or by contacting the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at
www.missingkids.com or by calling its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
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