Sexual predators present danger online, in communities

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ILLINOIS (WAND) – Sex offenders are finding new ways to target children across America.

In recent years, the problem has reared its head in central Illinois. Two Decatur school coaches, 26-year-old men Matthew Krause and Dylan Nunn, are accused of having inappropriate contact with teenagers through Snapchat and text messages. Police say Krause sent nude photos to a student.

In Charleston, police arrested a substitute teacher, identified as 39-year-old Adrian Rivas, who faces child indecency charges in Texas.

Law enforcement leaders say conversations that could be dangerous for teens and children can be difficult to track, especially when they happen through private messages. 

“I think that danger is – again – when you start having that one-on-one relationship with someone who is a student or an athlete or someone that you work with or that is your mentor,” said Macon County Sgt. Scott Flannery. “It’s the one-on-one that really starts getting into the grey area.”

Flannery says children are often targeted by people they know, specifically adults who are mentors or maybe family friends. Parents and educators carry and responsibility when it comes to keeping kids safe.

When it comes to schools, they’re responsible for putting potential teaching hires through extensive background checks. It’s possible for a sex offender to get past that step, however, by changing a name or initial.

“It’s due diligence on behalf of the school,” said Flannery. “It’s doing the background checks to make sure that the people they’re hiring are legit.”

Parents, on the other hand, are asked to set boundaries.

“My daughter plays softball and we get messages from the coach, but that comes directly to us,” Flannery said. “If a coach or teacher wants to send out a group message and say homework’s due this day or hey, class has been changed or something like that, you can count that that’s fairly innocent.”

The second part of Meredith Juliet’s report about child predators will air next Tuesday. It will be focused on how to talk to kids about the dangers of sex offenders.

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