GARDENDALE, Ala. (WIAT) — Social media is an easy way to connect, but police are warning sometimes it’s too easy.
“It was building up a friendship,” the mother of a teenage victim told WIAT.
We’re not identifying the mother because police say her 13 year old son was targeted through social media by a man accused of being an online predator, 21-year-old Jared Tolson.
“Just started up as ‘sup’ ‘how ya doing’ and at first my son thought it was a friend of his dad’s,” the mother told us.
The woman said she and her husband regularly check their son’s social media pages and she says they saw the messages between him and Tolson.
“There was no doubt in my mind that it wasn’t innocent, there is no doubt in my mind. Why is a 21-year-old talking to a 13-year-old boy; someone he doesn’t know,” the woman said.
They took the messages to the Gardendale police and investigators say after they took over eventually Tolson requested sexually explicit videos from the-13 year-old.
“Sick, to my stomach. My stomach turned,” The mother said.
Police said that this is what predators do: reach out, build a relationship and then victimize children. That’s why police say parents need to do whatever it takes to keep track of who their kids are talking to online and on their phone.
“I understand you want to respect your children’s privacy but your first priority is their safety,” Lt. Bryan Lynch said.
“This is a lesson learned granted we were staying behind him but if we hadn’t caught it there’s just no telling what would’ve happened,” the mother said.
Because of this, local business owner Jeff Dennis has put together a “Internet Safety” meeting for parents and teenagers. It will be August 17th from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at Enon Baptist Church in Morris.
There will be speakers addressing topics of dangerous apps for phones, tactics used by pedophiles and other internet and phone safety issues. For more information visit the event’s Facebook page HERE.
Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News