Do Your Children Attend An After-School Program?

Man using a laptopWhen my children were young (many years ago), they went to an after-school program offered by the county office of education. I naively assumed they were in safe hands and thankfully my children were in safe hands. Knowing what I know now—parents can’t be naive, they need to be proactive and they need to be involved.

What follows is a perfect example of why open communication between children and parents (or grandparents) and keen observation are absolutely necessary in today’s world.

In 2014, the Guam Police Department was alerted to an 11-year old boy who had produced child pornography for an adult male in New York. The boy and the man communicated through Instagram. FBI agents in Guam promptly obtained a search warrant.

Once the adult in New York was identified, a search was conducted at his home. During the search, FBI agents found hundreds of child pornography images and videos on his laptop and iPhone. The man admitted to an inappropriate relationship with the 11-year old in addition to having sexual contact with a 14-year old boy and other children he met through the after-school program where he worked. He also worked at a summer camp and volunteered at a community center where he mentored youths.

You can read the full FBI press release here: After-school program staffer

Even though he admitted to inappropriate behavior, he pleaded not guilty and was tried on several counts relating to child pornography production and distribution. He received a bench trial and was found guilty. He was sentenced to 15-years with 10-years of supervised released.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “…sexually exploited and victimized young children, including children he was supposed to care for at an after-school program. He preyed on the most innocent and vulnerable in our community.”

He was 23 at the time of his sentencing in 2015. Currently he resides with over 800 other criminals at the medium security federal prison Otisville in Otisville, New York. He is schedule to be released in the summer of 2029.

What steps can parents take to help them feel confident their children are in safe hands at school and at after-school programs?

Here’s a great resource (and $FREE MONEY$) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for parents and schools who want to help their children be even safer at school: School Safety Info

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