Students throughout the country are turning to their devices
for education as schools remained shuttered.

And Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann wants parents to
make sure that they take an active role in supervising their children while
they’re on the internet – hoping than active presence will protect them for
those who may have ill intentions.

According to Biedermann, who previously worked as a child
abuse and sexual assault detective for the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office
and has brought some of those skills over to Lathrop Police when he took on the
top role, the sheer number of young people using internet-connected devices
will give predators an opportunity that they’ve never had before.

“Just be knowledgeable about what your kids are doing – talk
to then in general not just about their cell phones or their computers, but
everything else that they have that is connected to the internet,” Biedermann
said. “Whether it’s PlayStation or an Xbox or an iPad – everything has the
potential to be connected to the internet today.

“Just know what they’re doing and have access to their
devices – and if they don’t want to provide that, then they shouldn’t have
them. There shouldn’t be anything to hide.”

Since taking over the Lathrop office, Biedermann has been
proactive at trying to keep predators off the streets – conducting a number of
highly-publicized sting operations using underage decoys – to try and remove
bad actors from the community and the surrounding area as a way of protecting
young people.

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While many parents are working hard to try and ensure that
their students succeed using an online educational platform, Biedermann warns
that just as everybody knows that young people are turning to their computers
exclusively for schoolwork, the people with bad intentions know as well.

“Some kids aren’t used to having so much free time because
they’re usually in school, and it’s important to stay on top of what they’re
doing and what they have access to and the devices that they’re using so you
can check and see that they aren’t preyed upon or doing anything
inappropriate,” Biedermann said. “Bad guys aren’t going to stop being bad guys
– they’re going to ramp things up.”

Manteca Unified has shifted to a walled system that only
people with district credentials can access as a way to prevent outside
interference, but schools across the country have had issues in the past few
weeks. On Tuesday the FBI even went so far as to issue a warning about
videoconference hijackings after a number of highly-publicized instances where
school feeds on the popular video conferencing app Zoom were accessed by
unauthorized individuals.

One California doctoral student who was presenting his
dissertation to a faculty panel at CSU Long Beach this week had his
presentation hijacked and pornographic images were shared with the group while
the person shouted racial slurs.

While tech experts are encouraging people to use safeguards
such as passwords and enhanced settings to protect their students – tutorials
are widely available online – Biedermann said he’s concerned that the sheer
amount of time that young people are being asked to stay entertained while
indoors will make them complacent with what they’re doing and who they’re
talking to.

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And while that happens, he said, there are people that are
just waiting for their opportunity.

“This is an unprecedented time – idle hands are not good,
and these people are going to commit crimes or go back to what they know,”
Biedermann said. “Kids that are cooped up are going to want to get out and get
away, and people are going to prey upon that – it’s kind of creating a
situation where there are more potential victims to prey upon because these
kids aren’t in school where they’re supervised by teachers and staff all day.

“We haven’t seen a huge uptick in this yet, but if we go by
Murphy’s Law, it’s going to happen, and parents need be very aware of what is
going on.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email
or call 209.249.3544.



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