Protecting kids from online predators

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FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS) — Kids across the state can fall victim to predators lurking on the web, and chat rooms are not the only places they hide.

Hannah West, like most kids her age, is active on social media.

“I use Instagram and Snapchat,” said West.

So are thousands of predators lurking on the web. Fayette County Sheriff Mike Fridley said predators groom kids on popular social media apps, like Snapchat and Instagram.

“I believe predators search the internet for victims, we get quite a few reports of that kind of activity being done.” said Fridley.

Fridley said parents should talk to their kids about cyber safety and monitor their activity online.

“Set boundaries.. there are apps to spy on what your kids are doing on their phones,” said Fridley.

He also said kids and teens need to be cautious about who they communicate with online.

“Don’t give out personal information and never ever go meet someone somewhere,” said Fridley.

That is something West said she always keeps in mind.

“I’ve been told a lot about social media and that if someone friends you like on snapchat or instagram, to know who they are before you accept it, because they can find out who you are,” said West.

West is in middle school, but she is aware that not everyone online can be trusted. She said she is careful to never communicate with strangers, and knows what to do if one tries to contact her.

“I would either go tell my parents or just block them and delete them,” said West.

Fridley tells parents do not hesitate to contact law enforcement if something does not seem right because predators cannot remain anonymous forever.

“You think you can erase and you do this and do that, there’s something always there that us as law enforcement can find to get a conviction or to see what’s going on,” said Fridley.

The sheriff’s department works with state police to investigate internet crimes.

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