TRI-CITIES,TN (WJHL) – Keeping your kids safe from sex offenders in public is one thing but what about when it comes to the vast world of the internet where anyone can be lurking?Law enforcement in our region are working for you, to monitor sex offenders online and give you peace of mind.
Between the two of them, parents Anna Kyker and Sloane Uphoff have three energetic and curious girls.
“My kid can start messing with the phone and key in the security code and before you know it, she has gotten to YouTube or something,” Kyker said.
While their kids may be young, both moms say they constantly worry about the potential dangers their daughters could face online.
“There are going to be things as she gets older that are harder to explain, just exactly like with sex offenders and stuff like that so I want her to know what she is going to get into,” Uphoff said.
They’ve even gone as far as checking Tennessee’s online sex offender registry where they can see predators convicted of prior crimes.In this digital age where almost everyone is on social media, many might wonder is anyone tracking these offenders’ movements online?
“The reality is, these sex offenders are out here, they are in our area and parents do need to be aware of where they are and what their children are doing online,” Kristen Quon said.
Quon with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s office says they monitor about 90 sex offenders in the county.
Under a state law amended in 2015 — law enforcement are now required to get log-in information for any online social media accounts offenders have and check them..
“Do we go on there 24-7 and check through? no because we don’t have the manpower to do that however, if something were to happen with one of those sex offenders and we check their registry and they hadn’t registered their Facebook or twitter, they could be charged with violation of sex offender registry,” Quon said.
Not all sex offenders are allowed to have access to social media. The most violent offenders are not allowed to have internet access at all. Those offenders report to the state department of corrections.
“Some of them, their crimes were internet crime, they lured children through the internet and those will never have any type of internet access,” Parole Officer Jesus Pena said.
Pena works in the state’s sex offender unit supervising offenders on probation, parole and life-long community supervision.He says rare exceptions can be made when an offender needs internet access for school or employment.
“When we do home checks, we check for internet,” Pena said. “They are not allowed to have any type of smart phone. we will actually pull up our phone and see if there is any time of internet or Wi-Fi.”
There are challenges to enforcing the law.
“If they choose not to tell us about a false identity they have established, we have no real way of checking it out unless we are able to link it up later through complaints from parents or other people,” Pena said.
Still, moms like Kyker and Uphoff appreciate the extra help in keeping their kids safe.
“My eyes can only go so far,” Kyker said
Sex offenders that are required to check in with the department of corrections are subject to random internet and computers searches at any time. If you have noticed any suspicious activity while on social media, you need to notify local law enforcement.Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.