New group of crime-fighters working to catch criminals in Houston

September 26, 2013 8:27:17 PM PDT
Crime Stoppers has been helping catch criminals in southeast Texas for 32 years. And on Thursday, the organization launched a new initiative to continue that goal.

It's called Mothers Against Crime. The goal of the program is to start a conversation with area mothers, to share thoughts and tools to raise safe children. And to kick it off, an FBI agent and local mom got the discussion started with a very serious topic: cyber predators.

FBI special agent Amanda Hinton is pretending to be a 13-year-old girl. The mother-of-two is in a chatroom, waiting for an online predator to take the bait. And it won't take long.

"One of the first questions a predator will usually ask you is ASL, which is age, sex, location. Once the girl says 13, female, Houston, Texas, the very next question could be, 'Could you send me a naughty pic?'" Hinton said.

Special agent Hinton is on the Houston Child Exploitation Task Force, trying to stay one step ahead of child sex predators who are always developing new tricks and techniques.

So some of Hinton's tips for keeping your kids cyber-safe? First, while a lot of parents worry about their girls, don't overlook the boys:

"About 25 percent of the cases now involved young boys," Hinton said.

Second, think beyond your home computer. Kids are now being exposed to predators on smartphones, tablets, even gaming systems.

"Anywhere where your kids can get to the Internet, that's where the predator is going to hang out," Hinton said.

And because of that, Hinton says the most important thing you can do is start an age-appropriate conversation with your kids.

"We want every mother to be involved and we want to start a city-wide conversation to make sure that families and children are safe," Crime Stoppers executive director Rania Mankarious said.

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