Online predators are looking for children

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTATV) - Two Rapid City women educated parents tonight on some of the risk factors associated with internet use.

They mentioned that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will become a victim of sexual abuse by the time they turn 18.

Tifanie Petro conducts forensic interviews with children who report abuse and she says technology is a huge factor in it.

Petro said, "Parents don't know how to work their cell phone or TV and they rely on their children and what it does is open up a doorway for people who don't have good intentions for their children and it opens up this doorway that we didn't have in years before."

Both women say it's smart for parents to supervise their children's internet use.

Hollie Strand is a Computer Forensic Examiner with the Pennington County Sheriff's office and she explained that before the rise of modern technology, people had to live in the same community as a child in order to gain access to them. But now predators can meet children though video games - social media - dating apps - and chat groups.

Hollie said, "If you were to go back 25 years and a guy was attracted to 5 year old boys its not something he would walk up to someone else and say hey are you into 5 year olds, but what we see, is they can find a ton of people online who not only say that's normal but say its acceptable."

Hollie also mentioned that keeping your location services function ON can makes it easy for others to gain access to your where about.