LITTLE ROCK – Child predators see this time of year as an excellent opportunity to exploit pictures of children found on the internet. As the weather changes and the air gets warm, many families head out to enjoy the amenities that make the Natural State special. As families enjoy our state it is important to remember that sharing pictures and videos of family this summer while being seemingly innocent, can have unintended and harmful side effects.


It is common for ill-intending users of social media to search through popular hashtags such as #bathtime and #poolside to find pictures of children in order to sell or trade with others. It is important that parents be wary of posting content featuring children during activities such as swimming, sleepovers, lake days and tanning, among others.


“No Arkansans intend to subject their children to exploitation through the things they post online, but often predators will prowl social media sites in search of pictures featuring children in swimsuits, athletic gear or wearing other formfitting and revealing clothes,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “It is also a good idea to ask for consent from a child’s parent or guardian before including him/her in content with your child. Protection of our children is a community-wide responsibility.”


Attorney General Rutledge has issued the following tips to follow as you use social media this summer:


· Think twice about posting pictures of children online, especially photos of children that show a lot of skin.


· Remember that status updates, photos and videos posted on social networks are permanent. Once the user posts, it is out of his/her control and you do not know where it will end up. Consider purchasing cell phone monitoring services from a provider to monitor children’s mobile devices.


· Just as children are taught to use strong privacy settings, adults should use the strictest settings that are available to prevent unwanted individuals from seeing images of their children. For example, on Facebook, one of the available privacy settings requires explicit permission from the account holder before he or she can be tagged in a post or picture.


· Monitor social media posts from friends to ensure they are not posting photos of loved ones that could be stolen by people with sinister motives and end up in the hands of a child predator. Many social media platforms allow users to submit complaints regarding problematic posts and to request deletion of posts.


Whether enjoying a swim in Lake Ft. Smith, a hike at Petit Jean or just an afternoon with kids at a fair, it is important to remember that the safety of our children is everyone’s responsibility. We help by doing our part to protect our future by protecting our children.


Arkansans can report child exploitation by calling the National CyberTipline, (800) 843-5678, or visit CyberTipline.com. To report child abuse, call the Arkansas State Police Child Abuse Hotline, (800) 482-5964, or, in the event of an emergency, dial 911 or a local law enforcement agency.


For more information about other consumer-related issues or to file a consumer complaint, contact the Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.