With the ever-growing charm of social media, Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said predators are keying into the Internet now more than ever to target children.
Thirty-four percent of children ages 10 to 17 have received unwanted exposure to sexual material, according to key online victimization research presented by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Four percent of those children online received aggressive sexual solicitation.
To better prepare, the sheriff's office and the governor and Texas attorney general's offices hosted a two-day training for more than 80 people representing 22 local, state and federal agencies.
The training was held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center.
"We used to say the only problem was a stranger coming up to you, and we taught children, 'don't talk to strangers,' but since the social media aspect has come in, we need to stay in tune to what's current and be aware to push that out," O'Connor said.
Training included workshops on technology-related crimes, awareness of service agencies that offer resources for such crimes, information about cases currently being worked and a breakdown of the degrees of crime for both missing and exploited children.
O'Connor said he sent deputies from patrol, investigations and the special crimes unit to the training to better educate all areas of the department.
"It's important that we're in tune and that we stay ahead to be prepared for these types of situations," O'Connor said. "We want to be advanced with this issue so it does not grow into an issue the community would be concerned about."
Copyright 2014 - Victoria Advocate, Texas
McClatchy-Tribune News Service