School officials warn parents of adult targeting local kids on social media

The Lucia Mar Unified School District is warning parents about someone who has been contacting students on social media.

In a message sent to parents, school officials say the adult is not affiliated with the school district but has been reaching out to some students via Instagram and may be trying to arrange meetings with the students. Officials say they are aware of at least one middle school student who has received inappropriate comments and sexually-related content from this person.

The school district is reportedly working with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office on an investigation into these incidents.

School officials are encouraging parents to talk to their children about online safety and ask them if they’ve received any inappropriate messages.

In a statement on Friday, San Luis Obispo County Office of Education Superintendent James Brescia said there has been an increase in predatory behavior targeting kids on social media and that several school-aged children in SLO County have reported receiving inappropriate messages on social media, including sexually-explicit invitations.

Recently, the FBI issued a warning about an increase in incidents of “sextortion” targeting children, particularly teenage boys. In these cases, an adult posing as a girl contacts boys through social media and coerces them into producing sexual images and videos then attempts to extort the victim for money by threatening to post the video online.

The following are online safety tips from the FBI:

  • Be selective about what you share online, especially your personal information and passwords. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, a predator may be able to figure out a lot of information about you or your children.
  • Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
  • Be aware that people can intend to be anything or anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that a person is who they claim to be.
  • Be suspicious if you meet someone on a game or app and they ask you to start talking to them on a different platform.
  • Encourage your children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.

Additional safety information can be found on the US Department of Justice website.

Parents are encouraged to contact local law enforcement if they suspect any incidents of online child exploitation.

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