No safety measure is too over-the-top when it comes to protecting our children from sexual predators. In this modern era, the internet gives us the ability to stay constantly connected to our family, friends, and the world at large, but it also makes us vulnerable to nefarious characters masked by anonymity, who use the internet as a tool of malicious intent.
Children and teens are particularly vulnerable to predators looking for their next victims online. Even the most trusted and innocent of apps can be used to contact minors and lure them into inappropriate and dangerous relationships. You can never let your guard down when it comes to the time your children are spending online.
A Florida man has been accused of using a popular Bible app called YouVersion to try to connect with underage girls. According to Disrn, Douglas Earl Kersey, a registered sex offender, “had been using the YouVersion Bible app to communicate with underage girls in a youth group” at Hillsborough County church. Thankfully, Kersey’s activity was noticed by a churchgoer who reported it.
The churchgoer reported Kersey after discovering he had friend requested several teenage girls in the youth group, searching his name, and realizing he was a registered sex offender. She told investigators his friends list on the app were all minors and “that was concerning to her.”
“It was very concerning,” said Detective Theresa Grooms, who worked the case for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. “You have young ladies that are meeting in a youth group to study the Bible, study the church activities and you have a registered sex offender who has projected himself into that group.”
Kersey, who has previously been imprisoned for transmission of material harmful to minors, did not disclose to HCSO any email addresses, websites, and social media profiles he was using, which he is legally required to do.
Let’s just stop for a moment and consider how absurd it is that this man was trusted to report his online behavior. This is a sexual predator we’re talking about!
At any rate, the report continues:
The HCSO said it will not name the specific church involved.
“Be aware. Check [kid’s] social media, check their phones, check their email addresses, check their friends,” Grooms said. “Then you have to double and quadruple check.”
We echo Groom’s sentiments. Giving children their “privacy” when it comes to the internet could result in the compromising of their safety. It isn’t worth it to be the “cool” mom or dad by allowing your children to maintain a private online life. Predators are real and they are out there actively looking for their next victim. It’s easy to think it’ll never happen to your child until it does.
Let this story serve as a necessary reminder of the importance of parental internet vigilance.
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