"That technology is giving ample opportunity for predators," said Jeffco DA investigator Mike Harris, who specializes in crimes against children.
Harris' Child Sex Offender Internet Investigations unit, known as "Cheezo," has arrested 45 suspected predators so far this year and 515 since 2005.
Harris' number one piece of advice to prevent problems is a cell phone curfew each night.
"We're going to put it on our charger, in our bedroom, and you can get it back the next morning," Harris said. "They don't need that phone at night."
He says be sure to regularly check your child's computer and phone.
Harris says he once thought computers put kids most at risk, but now he says it's their cell phones. Kids carry them all the time, chat on them, and use instant messaging.
They're also using free texting applications to keep conversations hidden from their parents.
Some of the most popular apps include TextPlus, TextFree Unlimited, TextNow, Brightkite Group Text, Textie Messaging, and TigerText.
"You need to check all the applications your kids have, because we're seeing there are messages on there, but if kids want to hide something, they can download one of these free texting applications," Harris said.
A parent's goal is to prevent abuse, but they also need to identify it.
9Health Reporter Dr. John Torres says there are signs parents should watch out for.
Torres says some signs are blatant and some are subtle.
"There are some pretty obvious signs if you see them, especially in the genital area," Dr. John Torres said. "If you see any bruising or bleeding in the underwear, if the child is doing things that are sexually inappropriate for that age and they're doing behaviors they haven't done before, that should start raising a lot of red flags," Torres said.
Harris says always inquire if your child's behavior starts to change.
"Number one thing with a child is talk to your children," Harris said. "I wish parents were more savvy. I wish parents would take the time and look at their kids' cell phones, look at what's on their computers. I don't think that's happening even nearly enough."
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