Detective Mesa shares tips for protecting your kids online

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – While it seems unlikely a 12-year-old girl is missing, found ten days later and nearly 2,000 miles away, with a man accused of rape and child abduction, law enforcement won’t are not surprised. Following Safford’s case, the Arizona family turned to experts for advice on how to protect the children.

First and foremost, they emphasize that getting into your child’s business is essential. Tell them about the dangers of social media platforms. “It happens a lot. It just shows his determination to have this young girl and take her with him,” said Detective Scott Pietrzak of the Mesa Police Department. He specializes in Internet crimes against children, and he was so concerned that he started his own company, Online Safety Specialist, to teach families about internet safety.

“Know what their passwords and usernames are, know their friends, who they chat with,” he said.

He recommends that adults do random checks of their children’s devices – phones, computers and tablets. “Know the parental controls on the phone and not only on the phones, but also on the applications. Because sometimes apps override parental controls on the phone,” Pietrzak said.

If you’re not tech-savvy, there’s always Google and YouTube. Graham County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jeff McCormies, whose office investigated this latest case, offered advice. “Our kids are educating parents and maybe showing them how certain things are done,” he said.

“We all want to be our children’s best friends; we absolutely don’t want our kids to be mad at us, but first and foremost, before we’re a friend, we’re a parent,” Pietrzak said.

The victim’s father told Arizona’s Family that part of the challenge early in the investigation was that he couldn’t unlock his daughter’s tablet; he didn’t have the password. The authorities managed to do this, but it took time.

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