Chesterton Tribune



Prosecutor warns parents to monitor kids' screen activity as they return to school

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Porter County Prosecuting Attorney Gary Germann is urging parents to monitor their children’s computer use, all the more so now that many students will continue remote learning full- or part-time as the new school year begins.

In particular, Germann said in a statement released on Tuesday, parents, grandparents, and guardians should be watchful of signs that children are being exposed to online abuse and exploitation.  “We have already seen the numbers of online exploitation complaints rise this past spring when the lockdowns increased across the country. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a global organization that disseminates tips to law enforcement, catalogued 4.1 million reports of cyber abuse against children in April 2020: four times as many complaints as they received in April 2019.”

“With so many changes it can be daunting to try to increase additional monitoring of a child’s online activity, but online exploitation of children can, unfortunately, happen to anyone,” Germann noted. “Online predators can pretend to be many different people on many different sites in an attempt to befriend children and teens before trying to coerce them into sending pictures, videos, and even meeting them in person. Parents and guardians have to be diligent and closely monitor social media use, staying up to date on the latest apps and trends as well as having open and healthy conservations about Internet safety. If you are unsure where to start, is a great resource for many tech related issues as well as to how to set parental controls on your children’s devices.”

Potential warning signs that someone may be grooming your child online or that he or she may already be in trouble:

-- Your child is constantly wanting to be online, with no interest in doing anything else.

-- Your child becomes angry when unable to go online.

-- Your child may turn off the computer or lock its screen when a family member enters the room.

-- Your child may begin receiving telephone calls from people you don’t know.

-- Your child begins to withdraw from family and friends.

“The Office of the Porter County Prosecuting Attorney remains committed to protecting those among us who are the most vulnerable, especially our precious children,” Germann said. “As we all struggle with all that is new and different and ever so challenging, I assure you that anyone who engages in these kinds of outrageous predatory acts against children will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If you suspect your child is in trouble, please do not hesitate to contact the appropriate law enforcement agency where you reside. Our community is blessed with outstanding police agencies and police officers who I know will do whatever they can to help you and your child.”


Posted 8/19/2020




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