Social Media Creates New Kind of Sexual Predator, Authorities Say

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – A Fayetteville teen has been charged with the sexual exploitation of minors and his parents were completely unaware of the crimes.

Law enforcement says with the popularity of social media and online chatting, kids are getting pulled into dangerous situations.

The online world has created a new kind of sexual predator.

With so many apps and social media sites, kids are putting themselves out there and becoming a target to predators.

Sometimes the predators are grown men, other times, they’re an honor student at the local high school.

Mark Adair, 17, is facing multiple felony charges of sexually exploiting a minor.

Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office says he used Twitter to meet his victims, and convinced them to send him sexual images.

He also stored several sexually explicit pictures and videos involving children on his computer.

His parents say he’s innocent.

“The parents had no idea that this was going on. They let us take the computer and search the computer and they brought the young man in for an interview,” said Sean Swain with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

Social media giants like Twitter patrol its own sites looking for this kind of illegal activity.

But law enforcement agencies say with the number of sites and phone apps out there, it’s tough to keep track of it all.

Many agencies now have departments dedicated to this kind of crime.

“Our cyber crimes [department] was actually developed for this particular type case where someone would solicit kids to send videos or pictures of themselves,” said Swain.

As young, impressionable kids are getting cellphones and computer access earlier and earlier, investigators say crimes of this nature will increase.

They also say it’s up to parents to keep their children safe.

“Be aware of who he’s talking to and what he’s putting out there because children don’t realize what they put on there now may show up in the future, especially when they’re looking for jobs,” said Leslie Workman, parent of a Fayetteville-area high school student.

RELATED LINKS

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children – Children as victims
Media Smarts – Sexual Exploitation

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