PROTECTION FROM PREDATORS: ISP and scout leaders talk digital dangers

Local News

EVANSVILLE, In. (WEHT) — A program by the Indiana State Police helps educate adults about dangers in the digital age.

Sometimes, it seems impossible to keep up with social media when it seems like there is a new app added to the market every day.

Because of that, it’s tough, but important for parents to stay on top of trends.

Thursday, ISP helped local scout leaders do just that through their Indiana State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Youth Educators

“A lot of solicitation, individuals seeking revealing photos. Of course there are kids that take those willingly, and send those out and they get in the wrong hands,” said Indiana State Police Youth Educator Amanda Giddings.

Luckily, those cases are rare. But the tools predators use are ever-changing in the unpredictable digital landscape.

These days, scouts aren’t just learning camping and handy skills. Leaders like Native Trails District Manager Fred Hassman are taking taking the lessons online.

“20 years ago you didn’t have smart phones . […] I think one of the important things is to make sure these scouts know the consequences of using media.”

But in many cases, the kids aren’t the ones who need information.

“Kids know,” said Hassman. “Their media and digital knowledge is much better than us as adults.”

ISP educators work to bridge that gap.

“If the adults in their lives don’t know what’s happening, then they’re really not as safe as they could be.”

Sometimes, that danger is where parents might not know where to look.

“There’s still a lot of parents that aren’t aware of these secret apps, a lot of them masquerade as calculators and I think there’s even a pinball game that gets used.”

And while the most extreme cyber crimes aren’t necessarily common, they’re still a reality in today’s social media society.

“In 2018 we received around 3,300 cyber tips. Last year, I want to say it was closer to 5,000.”

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(This story was originally published on Feb. 6, 2020)

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