HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Are your kids talking to dangerous people online?
Law enforcement officers have seen a drastic increase in the number of cyber tips coming in, according to the Southeastern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters has organized a free virtual event for parents Wednesday night to help them understand some of these dangers.
Most kids use the internet for school and to communicate with friends and loved ones, and experts say it has an impact on them socially, emotionally and physically.
The numbers from the Southeastern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force show a 71% increase in cyber tips in our region from 2019 compared to 2020.
They said more victims are learning at home virtually and more predators are also at home.
“If you’re a child predator, you’re going to hang out at a park or a school or place where kids hang out. In the cyber domain, it’s not unlike that. When you have a child predators, they’re going to hang out with kids where they are having fun and communicating and chatting and interacting with people,” said Len Gonzales, a cyber investigator and author of the book, “The Truth Behind Social Networking: What Teens, Young Adults, and Parents Need to Know."
CHKD asked him to host the virtual event Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. The purpose is to provide more information about the dangers that lurk online. Register here.
“This is going to be for parents of preteens and teenagers, and it's really going to talk about some serious issues about where they can go on the web that can be quite dangerous and those hidden dangers,” said Sam Fabian, a CHKD Parent Educator.
She said there will be sensitive topics to which your children could already be exposed, like chat rooms, hookup apps and sexting.
Gonzales said he will be taking a deeper dive into apps that parents may not know about that their kids may be using.
“We're not doing this to scare parents, but just to make them aware that these are out there and you have to have a plan. You have to talk to your kids,” said Fabian.
Resources for Parents: