Social-networking makes kids a target

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Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ill. - A local man is in custody after police say they found child pornography on his computer.

Investigators say the man also sexually attacked a girl under the age of 13 that he lured through Facebook.

68-year-old Thomas Vaughn of Benton Illinois is charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and child pornography.

These charges have parents wondering what they can do to keep their children safe online.

Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms and blogs...these sites can open the door to your child being victimized.

"Know what your kids are doing online, just like you know what they're doing after school," said Franklin County Sheriff Don Jones.

Jones says not a day goes by that Facebook is not a key player in one type of investigation or another.

He says it is crucial that the lines of communication are open.

"I have to feel comfortable enough to talk and get that information from my children and get that information from them if someone is trying to prey on them," said Jones.

Pay attention to your child's photos.

How much information are they disclosing about themselves?

Even things like favorite colors or hobbies give predators talking points.

"Sharing too much information would be an indicator to these predators. The more they can find out about these young folks the easier it is for them converse and cultivate a relationship," said Jones.

He also suggests that you pay attention to your child's privacy settings.

Just one click of the mouse can make your child harder to find.

Jones says part of the problem is that parents are not privy to the ever-changing technology that our children seem to pick up effortlessly.

"Young people are highly skilled at this type of technology and sometimes the parents aren't," said Jones.

Jones says the Thomas Vaughn case has brought this issue back to the forefront of his mind and says he wants parents to take their role as computer monitor seriously.

Vaughn is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond and is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing July 24th.

 

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