With more kids staying home, FBI warns parents to keep an eye on who kids talk to online

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With more kids at home during the coronavirus crisis, the FBI is sounding the alarm to a potential increase in child predators online. 

Whether it’s social media, an online game or video, child predators lurk everywhere and can pass off as adults kids should trust. But eventually, the conversation can escalate and become sexual in nature, said Dave Carter with the FBI Division in Philadelphia.

“Individuals may deceive or manipulate children into sending explicit images online, often pretending to be close in age to a child, or through threats or coercion,” Carter explained. 

Carter is acting assistant special agent in charge and said changes in kids’ behavior may be an indication something isn’t right.

“The children may experience withdrawn behavior, some angry outbursts, anxiety, depression, not wanting to be left alone with a specific individual, not age appropriate sexual knowledge or increased nightmares,” he said. 

He said parents — and any caregiver — should check social media profiles, chats, and ask kids who they are talking to and explain appropriate online behavior.

If adults come across a video they see as inappropriate on YouTube, Instagram or another platform, they should report the abuse to the website company and then contact the FBI with a detailed description of what they saw.

If something seems out of place, adults should immediately contact their local law enforcement agency, their local FBI field office (or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov), and file a report with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-843-5678 or online at www.cybertipline.org. 

Authorities also say to be as descriptive as possible and provide names, emails, websites and description of interactions if possible. It’s also important to try to keep all original documentations and communication logs so it can be reviewed by law enforcement officials. 

For more information, visit the FBI’s site here