With the arrest of a Bunnell police sergeant, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is reinforcing why parents should monitor their children’s activities in the cyberworld.
The warning also comes after Sgt. Michael Stavris, 30, was charged for posing as a 16-year-old girl to attract teenage boys who would send him graphic pictures.
It comes down to teaching kids to be cautious. Dennis Bustle, with FDLE, explained how these acts work.
“Basically, he would log on under this assumed name he created on this Facebook page and he would start up conversations with the victims and ultimately solicit photos and things like that from the victims,” said Bustle. “And then he would shut the page down when he wasn't using it, then he would open it back up when he wanted to use it again.”
Bustle said this is a wak-eup call for parents.
“I would suggest any parent (to) stay engaged, stay involved in what your kids are doing. Don't let them go completely unmonitored,” said Bustle. “Know who they're talking to.”
But as it turns out, tracking who someone is talking to online isn't as easy as it sounds.
“The simplest answer is you can't,” said Christopher Hamer, a network administrator with the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office. “These people spend time crafting these personas that represent them on the internet and they're very good at it.”
Hamer said Facebook or Twitter profiles can essentially be untraceable for a typical user. So, it goes back to what the FDLE recommends: parental involvement and teaching kids the risks of putting anything online.
“The Internet is not a safe place," Hamer said. "It is not their friend, it is not their private chat room. Anything that they put out there, they cannot take back If they send pictures that are wholly inappropriate, they can be used, reused, re-sent.”
Stavris has one relative that's come to his defense, claiming that he's innocent and is being set up.