A New York man is under arrest and accused trying to have a sexual relationship with a teenager in Alabama.
Authorities say a 46-year-old Spencer George befriended the teen through an online gaming site. Deputies say this progressed until he obtained her cell phone number and email. Then he began sending her sexually explicit photos of himself and messages about sexual activity.
When her parents found the photos, they contacted the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. Deputies say the girl was initally afraid to tell her parents about the photos.
George was arrested in East Aurora, New York, and charged with electronic solicitation of a child. He will be extradited to Jefferson County to face the charge. His bond has been set at $30,000.
In light of this case, deputies have offered some tips for parents to make sure their children are safe online:
1. Communicate with your children about what is acceptable online behavior. Encourage them to let you know if someone sends them explicit messages or photos.
2. Understand the technology that you allow your children to use. Online gaming services offer voice over ip chat during games. The conversations can become lewd and abusive.
3. Adjust online gaming settings to prevent your children from adding friends or talking to people they do not know. The service may allow you to set up an adult password requirement to add friends and select who your child may talk to.
4. Check the friends lists of all accounts. If you see people you do not know, ask your child who they are and how they know them.
5. Know the user names and passwords to any online account accessed by your child. This includes email accounts, online gaming and social media. Periodically check these accounts for activity that raises warning flags. Children may not recognize danger as readily as an adult.
6. Monitor your child's cell phone usage and communications. Periodically check their phone for threats to their safety. Remember, your responsibility to protect them outweighs privacy concerns they may have.
7. Do not allow your child to install third party chat, texting or video chat apps on their cell phones. These applications can allow for access to your child that is difficult to discover or track.
8. If you are compelled to allow your child to have their gaming system, computer or cell phone in their bedroom leave the door open so you can glance in from time to time. Pay attention to what they are doing.
9. If ever you discover something that causes you concern, discuss it with your child. Tell them why you are concerned. Call law enforcement when necessary.
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