Crisis Center warns about dangers online after human trafficking arrests

Crisis Center warns about dangers online after human trafficking arrests

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - There are plenty of online predators out there just waiting to talk to your kids. That's why organizations like the crisis center aim to educate parents and children about the dangers on the Internet.

"Kids spend about an average of 8 hours a day online, in some form or fashion," said Paula Cox, education director with the Midland Rape Crisis and Children's Advocacy Center.

One in five, that's how many teenagers say they've received an unwanted sexual solicitation online, according to the Crimes Against Children Research Center.

That same study found only 25 percent told a parent about the encounter.

"These kids come to us because they have been groomed by the person who is talking to them online," said Cox.

Cox says the most recent solicitation arrests should be a wake up call for local parents that predators are lurking in the area.

"It's here. It's absolutely here. It's here in Midland. It's here in Texas. It's here in the U.S. We hear about it at the schools. We have people call us constantly for advice," said Cox.

Cox spends a lot of time in local schools warning of the dangers of giving out personal information or simply talking to people you don't know. She says it's shocking that children and teens can be so trusting.

"We give examples like, 'if I told you online that I was a 12-year-old boy and my name was John and my picture looked like a 12-year-old boy, would you believe it?' Across the board, the majority will say, 'yeah, there's your picture.'"

The most important thing is to have open dialogue. Cox says you should discuss what social media sites your child is on, make sure their personal information is hidden from their profile.

"They need to start those conversations with them about what's out there," said Cox.

Parents should approach their children first about these issues, rather than waiting for their child to ask questions.

The Midland Crisis Center says if you suspect something is going on with your child, to call police.

You can also call the center for advice at (432)-682-5465.

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