(WBNG) — It’s catching the attention of law enforcement nationwide: predators looking to take advantage of children, using social media.
The Broome County Sheriff’s Office says traffickers use social media platforms such as Snapchat, Kik and others to lure young girls. Police say as long as social media exists, people will use it to take advantage of others.
“There’s always someone looking to exploit others,” said Lieutenant Ben Harting. “Just like your scam artists on the phone, or the emails offering you money, they’re always looking to exploit.”
The traffickers are said to be specifically using Snapchat’s ‘search by user name’ feature to find young women. From there, they send the user a friend request. If you accept, not only do they try to coerce you into joinging them, they track your location in real time using Snapchat’s map feature.
Police say there are several things parents can do to help protect their children.
“Communicate with your kids. Interacting with them, staying involved with what they have going on, letting them know that you care about them,” Lt. Harting said.
The sheriff’s office said while they have yet to see a specific instance of this tactic locally, sex trafficking is a problem all over the world, and social media has only made the problem worse.