DPD offers cyber class

Published 10:42 pm Friday, July 29, 2011

Tommy Loftis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office spent time at the Demopolis Police Department Wednesday evening when he offered a seminar on internet safety. The session was designed to educate parents on the dangers children face with online predators.

“when a sexual predator is arrested, what they are telling us is that Facebook is like hunting over a baited field,” Loftis said at the opening of the class.

Loftis went in-depth on actual cases in which sexual predators have been arrested and spent a great deal of time explaining the techniques many such predators use to find and victimize children through Facebook and other social media sites.

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Loftis’ presentation also included a number of alarming statistics offered by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

According to the NCMEC, one in seven children in the United States are sexually solicited online. The center’s research shows that 27 percent of those who have solicited children online have admitted to asking them to take and transmit sexual pictures of themselves.

“Generally those kind of people want to talk to law enforcement when they are arrested,” Loftis said.

Loftis, a Butler native. emphasized that such dangers are applicable to Demopolis as much as anywhere else in the country.

Demopolis Police Chief Tommie Reese underscored the same point, alluding to the series of arrests the DPD’s Cyber Crimes Unit has made in the last few weeks.

“It’s very important for them to be aware that these predators are out there and seeking their kids,” Reese said. “The internet is a helpful tool, but parents have to take a more active approach.”

Reese pointed to the fact that statistics from the NCMEC may be slightly inaccurate as they are based only on the number of reported cases.

“That’s the ones that have been reported,” Reese said. “That doesn’t include the ones you don’t know anything about.”

Reese is hopeful to hold similar sessions in the future as he and the department aim to better educate parents and young people to the dangers that face them during their internet browsing hours.