New Jersey law enforcement officials are stepping up efforts to warn children about online dangers.

The State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has done more than 400 presentations at middle and high schools, as well as at Boy Scout and Girl Scout meetings, churches and other organizations.

State Police Detective Katie Feehan, a member of the ICAC task force, said the events explain what can happen when a private photo is shared with a stranger.

“It’s a growing problem," she said about children on social media. "They don’t realize further down the road what’s going to happen with that picture or that video. They’re very in-the-moment.”

She said even in situations where a photo is sent to a fellow classmate or friend, they have no way of controlling who it gets shared with after that.

“The reality is these kids want attention and they want friends, so they go on the internet and they will talk to whoever will talk to them sometimes. They don’t realize how harmful that can be," Feehan said.

Feehan believes kids today face different kinds of dangers. For that reason, “they really have to take time and almost mature faster and realize there are repercussions of their actions in the moment. I always say take 30 seconds before you post. Take 30 seconds before you write back in a group chat.”

The detective said during the presentations that are given she will tell middle schoolers she sometimes works undercover, posing as a child online, and then finds out the person she’s been chatting with, who said they were 13 years old, is actually an adult.

“So these are two adults pretending to be kids talking to each other. [Students are] shocked when they hear this but that just goes to show you that they don’t know who they’re talking to online.”

Her advice to students is simple.

“The smartest thing to do is block people you don’t know and don’t talk to anybody you don’t know. Don’t even use an app with a chat feature unless you’re talking with friends," she said.

And also, if a boy gets a nude picture of a girl, even if he didn’t ask her to send it, “just delete it because not only is it possession of child pornography, but if you share that with one of your friends that’s distribution of child pornography, and everyone can be charged [with a crime].”

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