Predators using social media to lure kids to meet in public

Published: Nov. 18, 2016 at 2:59 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2016 at 2:59 AM EST
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Parents are being warned to keep a closer eye on their teen's social media accounts to prevent them from being targeted by "Bunny Hunters." That's when online predators try to lure boys and girls to meet them in public. It's a new term Deer Park Police say parents need to be familiar with.

This past year the Deer Park Police department has handled several sexting cases. As social media continues to evolve they have now been alerted to lookout for Bunny Hunters. "There's an underground group on the dark net where they specifically are targeting underage kids for sexual gratification for them themselves or outright sex trafficking," said Lt. Daniel McCormick with the Deer Park Police Department.

They are now working to get the word out to parents in the community. "It's Scary yeah. No I have not heard of this," said Kim Chaney. She is a mother of six. All of her kids are glued to their computers and iPod. She tells us that she is concerned about who they meet online. "There are scary people out there and you have to kind of tell them what to look out for. Don't ever give out your name. Your last name or first name. Not your address or anything like that." As an added protection she turns off the internet in the evening. "It seems to work. It goes off and they're like, mom my internet's not working. Yeah it's kind of a nice tool to have," said while laughing.

Lt. McCormick says parents need to go a step further to protect their teens. "They need to keep that device and take it away from them at night time. There's no reason for a child to have that smartphone in the middle of the night because that is when a lot of these things take place." He says most of the sexting incidents they've investigated happened between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.

Chaney tells us even with all of her rules in place, she knows that she can't shield her kids from everything. "It's is hard, and yeah I wouldn't be surprised if my 14-year-old had a secret account, but it all comes back to what you teach your children. You try to teach them right from wrong and at a certain part in their lives they take off and you just have to trust that they make the right decisions."

Police tell us parents need to be tech savvy and to make sure they know how to work every device that they give to their children. If parents come across anything that looks questionable they should take a picture of it and report it to police.

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