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Predators targeting kids on teen dating apps

Posted at 6:32 PM, Nov 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-12 19:32:24-05

TULSA, Okla. — "We have a big, big problem," said Jason Weis, head of the Demand Project, an organization committed to combating child sexual exploitation.

How big? Experts say a predator could target your child within seconds on a teen dating app.

Weis says a young child is targeted every 34 seconds here in the United States, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

If you do the math, that's 2,040 children targeted every minute.

Weis investigates these types of cases. He says dating apps are a predators haven.

"It's an age gap app where age is just a number, and it's specifically designed for older men to find younger girls," Weis said.

That app is called Gaper, but Weis says there are countless other apps predators frequent.

One victim's death made headlines across the country. 13-year-old Nicole Lovell was killed by a man she met through an app called "Kik".

Weis says predators have begun to use these sites as a means to groom kids into "sextortion."

Convincing a child to send a sexually explicit picture, then threatening to share it online or even with parents and teachers if they don't send more.

As far as the best way to prevent your child from becoming a victim?

"We are raising adults," Weis explains. "We're not raising kids as parents. So it's time to step up and take charge. And know what's going on in the kid's phone and educate yourself."

He says there's another issue with some of these apps. There's nothing in place to monitor the age restrictions or verify birth dates.

So, essentially, any adult predator could sign up pretending to be a teen.

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