Lauren Book Warns that TikTok Poses Dangers for Children

State Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, came out swinging at TikTok on Monday, saying predators use the app to target children.

While TikTok has drawn fire for its ties to the Chinese government and over personal data security, Book and her Lauren’s Kids nonprofit pointed to other dangers associated with it.

Lauren’s Kids released a PSA video on Monday.

“The popular app TikTok has come under scrutiny recently for reportedly sharing its user’s personal data – but that’s not the only danger lurking on the app. South Florida based nonprofit Lauren’s Kids has released a PSA video focusing on the dangers of popular apps such as TikTok as it relates to child and teen digital safety. As the National Sexual Assault Hotline reports record demand, with many calls for help coming from children, this PSA highlights the ever-growing prevalence of predation on apps and social media sites frequented by children,” Lauren’s Kids noted.

“With one in five children being sexually solicited online it’s more important than ever we bring awareness to these very real dangers,” Book, the founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids, said on Monday. “Those who seek to abuse and exploit children online frequent the very same apps, games and social media sites as their intended victims. It is critical for parents to be educated about these dangers, and what they can do to reduce the risk to their child.”

Lauren’s Kids stressed that more children are spending time on digital devices during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The FBI has released guidance warning of increased digital predation during COVID-19, with kids spending more time than usual on digital devices – a warning echoed by Internet crimes against children detectives across the state. While many parents believe they would know if their child were being abused or exploited, 75 percent of victims do not tell about their abuse within a year, nearly half of all victims do not tell within five years, and many stay silent for even longer due to feelings of fear, shame, and guilt. Whether in-person or online, predators typically “groom” their victims for abuse – first gaining trust, then testing boundaries and secret-keeping, and finally exploiting a child to get what they want – often using threats or demands to make their victim feel trapped, at fault, and afraid to get help,” Lauren’s Kids noted.

“The reality is that 95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness,” Book said. “Parents may think their children are safer at home during the pandemic, but child predators are smart. They know how to gain trust and then exploit it. It is important to have loving conversations about safety, both online and in person, and to make sure your child knows they can always come to you for help – no matter the situation.”

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

5 COMMENTS

  1. So Lauren Book is STILL using a 20 year old misinterpreted stat from a study that included online flirting among teens and spam emails from online s*xual products as “s*xual solicitation. It was a flawed study from 1999 that holds even less water today.

    Senator Book is so incompetent, I’m amazed she’s not working for the Trump Administration.

  2. Thank you, Lauren Book, for sharing with your readers that 95% of sexual abuse could be avoided through prevention in the form of education and awareness. So many resources in this country and state are spent on “managing” people with a past sex offense, with the California Sex Offender Management Board (check out their video at casomb.org) saying this country spends anywhere from 10 to 40 billion dollars a year on the sex offense registries.

    Unfortunately, there are people on the registry who will and do reoffend (commit another sex crime). They need to be monitored always, if not permanently incarcerated. But research, including with the U. S. Department of Justice, shows a low recidivism rate with hundreds of thousands of registrants in this country working hard to reintegrate back into society successfully as law-abiding citizens. Isn’t it time to take these one-time-only offenders and finally free them from the punitive registry in the state of Florida? Use the money that is spent monitoring them and incarcerating them for technical violations, and use it to prevent future sexual abuse — so much could be done if this money were turned over to education, prevention, and victims’ services, instead of monitoring people who are never going to commit another sex crime. All research shows that once caught and serving time in prison, most will never re-offend. Does this costly and punitive lifetime on the registry in Florida really do anything to help children in the long run?

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