SVU prosecutor educating teen girls on how to avoid social media dangers

AURORA, Colo. -- All it takes is one photo shared with the wrong person or a chat with a seemingly harmless person in a favorite app for an online interaction to take a bad turn.

"More and more kids are encountering those situations where something has happened that makes them feel very uncomfortable," Kelley Dziedzic told Denver 7.

Dziedzic is the a deputy district attorney for the Special Victims Unit of the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office.

She gets the worst of the worst cases, which often start with information or pictures that are shared on social media.

“Once it's out there on the internet… it doesn't matter if you're the most dedicated team of law enforcement - it's very, very hard if not impossible to reel it back in," she added.

Dziedzic now spends part of her job educating teen girls about potential online dangers and the things they can do to be safe.

One thing she has them look at is what is communicated by their user names. A user name like Brittney03 seems straight forward, but Dziedzic points out it not only communicates the user if female, but also that they were likely born in 2003, putting them in their mid-teens. That information can attract predators looking to prey on young girls.

"If it's not easily ascertainable you're a teenage girl, you know, 14, 15, 16 there's probably going to be less interest,” Dziedzic said.

In addition to leaving your birth date off your profile, Dziedzic tells girls to look closely at the messages the photos they are posting communicate, and suggest they not post anything they wouldn’t want their grandma to see, adding many teens post things “and really, really wish that they hadn't sent a particular image.”

If teens get a message from someone they don’t know that they thing is suspicious, Dziedzic says they should tell their parents or a teacher. She also says the message shouldn’t be deleted, because police may need it as evidence if it becomes part of a criminal investigation.

As scary as it is, Dziedzic says teens shouldn’t be afraid to be online.

"Keeping yourself safe doesn't mean not using these technologies," she said. "But it means being smart."

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Kelley Dziedzic will be sharing more ideas on staying safe online at the Colorado Girls Elevated: Reach Your Peak expo in Aurora on Sunday, April 23. Follow the link for information on how to register for free tickets.


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