Three things to know if your kid gets a sext from a stranger
SAN ANTONIO - Predators are using phones to send pornographic photos to kids.
As local moms fight back, they tell the Trouble Shooters the three most surprising things they learned from the police investigation.
"My initial reaction was, how dare somebody do this?" says a local mother who asked us not to use her name.
Her middle school daughter received a sext from a stranger that contained a pornographic photo.
"She gave me her phone and was like, mom what do I do?" the mother says. "I decided I would just say, ‘You have the wrong phone number,’ and text back. Immediately a message came back saying ‘Oh, I got this phone number off of this website and how embarrassing and you have my picture. But now that you have that picture, maybe we should talk. What's your name?’"
The text was tantamount to solicitation. The mom immediately called police as well as nextTalk, a nonprofit that helps families navigate difficult conversations.
"No matter how vigilant we are with apps and monitoring their online use, something is going to slip through,” the nonprofit’s director Mandy Majors says.
The first thing the moms learned: don’t delete the photo or message. Police need it.
"They can retrieve the messages but it's going to add an extra layer and so we want to make the job for the police as easy as possible,” Majors says.
The second big tip: while the sext is shocking, it’s not necessarily against the law.
"Because they didn't 'know,' technically, that my daughter was a minor, it's not considered illegal,” the local mom explains.
And third: the FBI tells the Trouble Shooters that predators are master manipulators, and kids should never write back.
"I want parents to know that this could happen to anybody,” the local mom says.
Majors with nextTalk recommends parents role play this scenario with their kids by asking what they would do and making sure they know that while they wouldn’t get in trouble, they do need to tell an adult.
"If they're old enough to have a phone, they're old enough to hear this story,” Majors says.
Police say you can always report these kinds of text messages by calling the non-emergency number.
By EMILY BAUCUM