WILLIAMSON CO., Tenn. (WKRN) — A number of people who have worked for school systems before have been arrested and charged with using technology to help them prey on students for sex. The need for connection is often exploited by some people in authority who spend hours with children every day at school.
Aimee Alberd, a forensic interviewer on behalf of the Davis House Child Advocacy Center, said there are several things parents need to be aware of to protect their children.
“A teacher or a coach relationship can be really good. But, it’s also a place where if you as a parent aren’t involved, aren’t talking to your child, aren’t checking their phone to see who are they texting, then it can leave you in the dark on what is really happening with them,” Alberd said.
Roughly 1,200 Williamson County children have met with Alberd for an interview. “90% of the interviews that I do are all sex abuse interviews. So, I’m talking about sex abuse with children all day, every day.”
Based on the crimes she has uncovered, Alberd said technology is often tangled in the abuse.
“Perpetrators are very clever, and, you know, feeding into what kids want or need, which most of it is connection.” She continued, “Kids are also very good at hiding things. So, you add the two of them together, and it creates a very complicated process.”
A process that is ever changing as technology advances. Alberd recently completed a training with a local detective.
“It was so eye-opening to me. There are certain apps that you can literally launch into them, and you don’t have to create an account, you don’t have to have a password, they literally have straight access to chatting with whomever they want,” she said.
Parents may not know about all those apps, but predators do.
“You can stick your head in the sand all you want, but it just means that someone else is either going to teach your child what’s happening out there or heaven forbid, they might be taken advantage of by somebody who has some dark ulterior motive,” said Alberd.
She listed apps parents need to research. “Kik, Discord, Omegle, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp is another one. Grindr, Tick Tock.”
Most local authorities said predators use apps as a tool to have secret communication with their victims.
“Snapchat has a ‘For My Eyes Only’ section in it that’s got a separate password. You need to be talking to them about that. Do they have a password for that? You need to know that password. It’s a four digit PIN,’ Alberd explained.
It starts with conversations about the reality in the world we live in – the one Alberd faces every day.
“It’s literally like five minutes here, 10 minutes here. You don’t have to give them horrible gory details about all kinds of stuff. But, they do need to know that there are dangerous things, and they’re dangerous people. And you know what to do in certain scenarios.”
Many local law enforcement agencies and child advocacy centers hold training sessions for parents that are focused on these apps.
People in positions of authority are preying on Tennessee children. News 2 investigates the disturbing trend and shares important information that parents need to know in our special reports Position of Authority.