Davis County Sheriff’s Office works to warn the public of the dangers of social media
Dec 30, 2023, 5:08 PM | Updated: 5:27 pm
FARMINGTON — There are plenty of benefits to social media, such as staying in touch with friends, sharing pictures, and joining like-minded groups.
However, there is a negative side that law enforcement often sees.
“Just being on these social media apps, they are sitting ducks for these predators,” said Stephanie Dinsmore, the public information officer for the Davis County Sheriff’s Office.
Dinsmore is concerned with how often children are targeted by predators.
Detectives, with the Davis County Sheriff’s Office, arrested two people Friday, who they say came to the area from out of state to have sex with children, they first met on social media.
It’s an ongoing problem that has grown throughout the past year, according to Dinsmore. She says the Sheriff’s Office has made 12 arrests in these types of cases during the past year.
“These cases are increasing and sextortion cases have been on the rise, especially in 2023,” said Dinsmore.
Sextortion is when adults pose as teenagers and get victims to share sexually explicit images, then blackmail the victims for money, more photos, or even sexual favors.
“This is happening every single day whether parents want to recognize it or not,” Dinsmore said. “So, avoiding these conversations isn’t helping your family. You need to have these conversations and they’re difficult, but you need to make sure you are allowing yourself to have honest and open conversations with your kids so they feel comfortable coming to you when mistakes happen.”
According to the FBI, these cases are increasing across the country and a lot of it begins on social media apps.
“One tactic that a lot of predators like to use is they will friend someone on Facebook and they are very crafty,” Dinsmore said. “They will have already friended several of this individuals friends, so when this individual is logging into the app and they see, ‘oh, I am friends with many mutual friends of this individual, it has to be another teen.'”
Raising awareness of this issue is going to be an even bigger priority for the Sheriff’s Office in 2024.
Detectives will be hosting internet and social media safety classes for adults and their children who 12 years old and older.
“We are very fortunate we have very experienced detectives who have worked these kids of cases for decades,” Dinsmore said. “These are the same detectives teaching the course. We are proud of them and we’re going to continue this mission.”