SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Santa Maria police are warning parents about an increasing number of predators who are "grooming" children online.
Kids as young as early elementary school age are being targeted by predators.
Commonly used web-based platforms like Facebook and Instagram can create a curtain for inappropriate behavior. According to Lt. Paul Van Meel, there are many methods predators use to approach young children on the internet.
You can help protect your child by paying attention to their behavior and attitude. Police also recommend restricting web access, monitoring web history and knowing your child's passwords.
Parents can also be victims of grooming, often by people who are known and trusted by the family or even by family members.
If you suspect an inappropriate relationship between a child and an adult, you can contact police to help answer your questions, or investigate the situation further.