Child predators are finding their task easier now that children spend more time online and in many cases unsupervised.
Experts said online sex exploitation is skyrocketing. Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, a handful of Rio Grande Valley teenage girls have been reported missing.
“It’s so easy now a days to leave the kids in their rooms and heaven knows what they’re doing,” said Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez.
Just this morning, a 22-year-old man was arrested in Donna in connection with a missing 14-year-old girl. Her mother said she met the man through social media.
“Of course these kids are so young and so naive they don’t know what’s wrong,” Rodriguez said.
Being home doesn’t necessarily mean they are more safe there, he added.
“A lot of times it’s not the kids looking for this. It’s these predators that know they’re on their phone.”
Online enticement reports increased 93% compared to this time last year, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“Social media is so powerful with their technology with these phones. They’re very savvy and smart on how to start a conversation with children,” Rodriguez added.
In June, two Louisiana men were charged with kidnapping and sexual assault in connection to a missing 13-year-old McAllen girl who was contacted through the social media app snap chat.
“It can happen from a far away doesn’t matter, we’ve seen New York make it all the way to the Valley,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez encourages parents to stay vigilant and connected with what their kids are doing online.
The DA’s office is currently working with school districts to raise awareness on online dangers during the pandemic .
To report cyber crime against children to Homeland Security Investigations call 1-866-347-2423