LOGAN – Logan Police have arrested a man they say raped a 13-year-old girl after luring her over Snapchat. Cyber security experts say it’s the latest reason parents should think twice about letting kids use the messaging app.
20-year-old Tristan Larson is accused of posing as a classmate of the girl and asking her over to an apartment in North Logan. The victim says when she got there Larson answered the door, pulled her into the apartment, put a red bandana over her mouth and tied it around the back of her head, then raped her in his bedroom.
She says the bandana muffled her screams.
Police say the suspect is an acquaintance of one of her friends, which they believe made it easier for him to pretend to be someone she knew.
Child safety experts say it is almost impossible to monitor what kids do on the app because the messages are designed to disappear quickly.
Protect Young Eyes CEO Chris McKenna, who has testified before Congress about the need for more safety measures for children online, says many predators are using the “Stories” feature of the app to build a relationship with children because those photo and videos stay posted a lot longer.
“Individuals are posting [to stories] to say, ‘Hey, swipe up for more or take a look at this inappropriate photo of me’ and because it’s more permanent, they’re able to put more hooks in the water,” McKenna says.
Apps that can track what children do on their cell phones often do not work on iPhones, according to McKenna, and even then parents rarely see all the messages being sent over those apps.
McKenna believes the best way to protect children is to talk with them openly and honestly about all the dangers they face online.
“Talk about all of the awkward and horrible things nobody ever talked to you about because if you don’t then Snapchat will and others will,” McKenna says.
Resources for child safety
Parents can get more information on this topic at: Protect Young Eyes.
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