School districts warn of online traffickers as remote learning continues

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HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Remote learning has caused concerns over online predators and the time students are spending on social media.

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“A lot of these young students, you know they’re at home… all day,” said RGV Director for Refugees Services of Texas Lizette Pacheco.

As many students continue being remote, Pacheco said students could be more vulnerable to the manipulation and exploitation tactics of traffickers.

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“Maybe if someone was trafficking them or bothering them at least when they were in school they had that opportunity to leave,” said Pacheco.

Pacheco explains students need to be aware of what they post on their social media accounts. 

“They’ll post things on maybe how they are feeling or how their day is going where they’re at what their interests are,” said said.  

In an effort to protect students, school districts like McAllen ISD have been implementing online security training for students every year. 

“We teach them what’s okay to share and what’s not okay, things like keeping their phone number private, don’t share your full name, don’t share your address also even where you attend school,” said Jennifer Valero, a librarian at Bonham Elementary School.  

Valero along with other librarians in the district take part in those training to make students aware of things they shouldn’t be sharing.

When it comes to online predators, they said it could be easier for them to target students, which is why it’s crucial for parents to also look out for signs. 

”Students start hiding their device from their parents, they’ll dim their screen, they’ll turn their device away from their teacher, they’ll turn their device away from their parents, they don’t want anyone to see what they are doing,” said Deborah Ramirez Rubio, a librarian at Cathey Middle School.

Rubio adds it’s important for parents to talk to their children about what apps they are using and talk to them about the dangers. 

If parents have any questions on Internet safety, they are being asked to contact their school district. 

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