Predator case reminds parents to remain vigilant

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Itís a transition time for many families, with McCook children heading off to school today, offering new adventures and challenges for both the students and their parents.

Just how much freedom should be offered to a child at any given age? How much privacy should a child be allowed, and how far should parents go when it comes to monitoring their activities?

Itís hard to go too far, especially with younger children, when one considers a Grand Island case earlier this week.

The Nebraska State Patrol acted quickly when it learned that a man had begun a sexual conversation on Facebook with a 12-year-old girl, and persisted even after she informed him of her age.

Thankfully, her parents knew what was going on and turned her account over the State Patrol Monday, which assigned an investigator trained in undercover operations for online Internet crimes against children.

Posing as the girl, the investigator arranged a meeting in a Grand Island park, where the man was arrested that afternoon.

Ideally, children will have the kind of relationship with their parents that promotes the kind of honest communication that lead to the Grand Island arrest.

Before being allowed on the Internet, children should demonstrate their willingness to follow some basic rules.

They include:

* not giving out address, telephone number, parentsí workplace or other private family information.

* telling parents right away if coming across something inappropriate.

* never arranging a face-to-face meeting with someone ďmetĒ online without informing their parents.

* talk to parents about posting personal or family pictures.

* not responding to mean or aggressive messages.

* setting up rules in advance for online and mobile behavior.

* keeping passwords secret except to parents.

* not downloading or installing anything without permission.

* be a good online citizen and not do anything that hurts other people or is illegal.

Anyone who suspects a child has been exposed to an online predator should contact law enforcement as soon as possible.

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