Nevada — Law enforcement officials are reminding residents that while social networking sites can be fun, they also present potential dangers in the form of sexual harassment.
Washoe County Sheriffs Office deputies recently arrested Jared Smith, 25, of Sparks, after he allegedly sent messages through a Facebook.com account of a sexual nature to a 14-year-old girl, according to a press release from sheriff's spokesman Armando Avina.
According to the release, the following events transpired on the evening of June 12, 2010:
• WCSO deputies arrived and met with the victim, who showed the officers the illicit content. The adult male logged on as someone else and pretended to be a friend of the female victim. The female victim then identified the alleged suspect to officers.
• The following morning, officers made contact with the male subject accused of sending the female victim messages that were sexual in nature. During the subsequent investigation process, deputies determined the male subject did send the messages.
• Smith was booked into the Washoe County Detention Facility for using technology to lure children, violation of a protection order and stalking – use of the Internet. His bail was set at $18,000.
An underreported crime
Detective Dennis Carry of the Washoe County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force said incidents where adults use emerging social media websites to entice children are often not reported to the proper authorities.
“It's a huge problem,” Carry said. “Online enticement of children is far underreported. The reports are extremely low in comparison with how many times the crime occurs.”
Carry said open communication lines between parents and children is an important strategy to combat Internet predators.
“Families must communicate about the potential dangers,” he said. “Also, it's critically important the authorities find out when someone is victimized.”
Carry said [people] should not reveal personal information on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or MySpace.