Mid Michigan child advocacy center offers tips to keep children safe from online predators

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Published: Oct. 14, 2019 at 9:32 PM EDT
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(10/14/19)- It's a question many parents face when it comes to the internet. How much freedom online, is too much.

"Parents used to worry about the kids when they are outside playing. Now you have to be worried about when they are in their room on a computer," said Genesee County Sheriff, Robert Pickell.

That online threat Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell is talking about, is an all too real one for the people at Voices for Children in Flint.

"Here at the advocacy center, we know that this is happening regularly," said Voices for Children, Executive Director, Nsye Holloman.

Holloman said over the last 3 months, the center has received 154 new cases of child sexual abuse in Genesee County.

And she says easy access to the internet for children-- can also mean easy access to children by predators.

"It's important for parents to have conversations with their children, even as young as six," Holloman said.

Holloman says one of the simplest things parents can do--keep phones out of their child's bedroom.

"As much as we want our kids to have a little bit of freedom, a lot of this is happening where parents don't even know that they are having these conversations," Holloman said.

And it could lead to disturbing situations.

Just recently, a Genesee Township man was charged after admitting to having a million pornographic images and videos of children on his computer.

"These predators understand if they can get a kid to send an inappropriate picture then they can start exploiting them, that they can start blackmailing them," Holloman said.

Holloman said parents should also check phones for hidden apps and learn language kids use to communicate.