RENO, Nev. (KOLO) – The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office says a social media post alleging a high school girl in Spanish Springs was almost the victim of a kidnapping and sex trafficking, is unverified.
The post was reportedly shared thousands of times. It states the girl was home alone while distance learning and suggests sex traffickers almost kidnapped her.
“Neither the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office dispatch, the Northern Nevada Regional Intelligence Center, nor the regional Human Exploitation and Trafficking unit have been able to verify this account,” Sheriff Darin Balaam said. “Bringing awareness to sex trafficking, however, and circumstances under which it could occur is important. While the social media post is similar to urban legends shared on social media, we have, again, been unable to verify the report.”
Sheriff Balaam is using it as a teaching moment, urging parents to have conversations with their children about being aware of their surroundings.
“Right now is an extremely tough time for children, teens and parents to navigate,” Sheriff Balaam added. “Children and teens may be home alone and on computers for school. Unfortunately, parents aren’t always able to monitor their children’s actions while at home or online. It sounds basic, but Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Cyber Security Detectives say the best, and most effective, way to protect your children online is to have open discussions regarding cyber safety.”
The sheriff’s office provided the following cyber safety tips for parents:
- Discuss the dangers of the internet with your child and set ground rules to follow.
- Some handheld games connect to the internet. Understand the technology you bring home.
- Review safety/parental controls on your computer, search engine, email, and instant messaging.
- Monitor your child’s online activity and the sites they visit.
- If you feel it’s necessary, install monitoring applications.
- Keep the computer or laptop in a common area, not in your child’s bedroom.
- If your children are dealing with cyber bullies or potential predators, report them immediately to an authority figure.
- Continually check-in with your children regarding their internet safety, and look for additional devices your children may acquire without your knowledge.
- Some children may want to seek fame and/or popularity online or on apps. Parents need to be aware of their children’s state of mind.
Cyber safety tips for teens:
- Never take images of yourself that you wouldn’t want everyone- your classmates, teachers, family or your employers – to see.
- Keep social networking site profiles set to “private.”
- Do not give out personal details such as address or school information.
- Turn off your webcam after using it so it cannot be hacked.
- Do not present yourself as dating material.
- Do not use voice chat when playing an online game, unless there is a feature that allows you to disguise your voice.
- Do not accept downloads from strangers. This includes cheat programs that may claim to help you perform better in an online game, but really could be carrying malware.
- Do not send out materials to fellow gamers that contains personal information and/or data.
- Do not meet a stranger from your gaming world in person. People are not always who they say they are.
- Tell someone! If you ever feel uncomfortable about communications online, tell a trusted adult. Even if what you have to tell the adult is embarrassing, it’s better to tell someone and get the appropriate help as soon as possible.
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