Autism Awareness Infographic from NCMEC

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) would like to share our new Autism Awareness Infographic to help communities increase awareness about the issues of wandering in Children with Autism, enabling them to better address these issues in communities. Please help us distribute this important information during April, National Autism Awareness Month. For additional resources and the NCMEC Wandering PSA, please visit Click the infographic for a full sized PDF.


Danger Alert! Apps

App developers are nothing if not prolific. But not all apps are created equal – there are new nefarious social apps on the scene all the time.

One of the apps that has gotten press in recent months is Snapchatsnapchat. Messages disappear after a matter of seconds. The messages can include images, making it easy for users to “sext” and have the evidence vanish. But is it really gone forever?

In an article dated October 15, 2013, the BBC reported on a Snapchat hack called Snaphack. Snaphack allows the user to capture images and messages from Snapchat. These can then be passed along, undermining the stated intent of Snapchat.

Anonymous chat apps, such as Omegle and ChatRoulette, offer additional avenues for predators to find victims. The use of the Internet for such purposes is nothing new, but these apps make it harder for parents to monitor.omegle

Earlier this month, the man accused of assaulting a teen he met on Omegle was arrested in Oklahoma. The story, reported by News 9, highlights the inherent lack of security in these apps.

Another category of apps allows users to hide selected social media apps with the tap of a button. Tech savvy kids (and what kids aren’t?) can use this to hide their use of controversial apps from their parents in an instant. A search for “hide apps” in the iTunes app store returns several results. Also important to note, apps like Poof, which are no longer available for download, are still in use.

What can families do to protect their children?
There are security features parents can enable on their children’s phones and other devices that will help keep them safe. Apple and Android products have built-in parental controls or restrictions that can be enabled and are password protected. Step-by-step tutorials are available through the links below.

The best protection of all is to have open communication with your kids and to talk to them about using technology, make sure they are comfortable with asking for help if a stranger approaches them online, or if they have gotten into something they don’t know how to get out of.
Together, we can keep our kids safe online.

For more information on Cyber Crimes and protecting children online, please view a recording of Part 1 of our 3-part series on Cyber Crimes and join us for Part 2 on November 19 at 10am PT.

A Safe and Fun Halloween!

Halloween is a lot of fun and can also be an opportunity to talk to your kids about safety. One local Law Enforcement agency shared the following useful tips. Please forward these tips to you communities and lets all help Halloween stay Fun for Everyone!

Trick or Treating Happy Halloween

  • Make sure older kids go out with friends. Younger children should be accompanied by an adult. If you live in a rural area, offer all kids a ride in the car.
  • Set a time limit for children to trick-or-treat. Together, map out a safe route so you know where they’ll be. Remind them not to take shortcuts through backyards, alleys, or playing fields.
  • Remind kids never to enter a strange house or car.
  • Try to get kids to trick-or-treat while it is still light out. If it is dark, make sure the children are carrying flashlights that work.

Eating the Treats

  • Kids need to know not to eat their treats until they get home. One way to keep trick-or-treaters from digging in while they’re still out is to feed them a meal or substantial snack beforehand.
  • Check out all treats at home in a well-lit place.
  • What to eat? Only unopened candies and other treats that are in original wrappers.
  • Don’t forget to inspect fruit and homemade goodies for anything suspicious. Welcome trick-or-treaters at home by turning on your exterior lights.


  • Remove objects from your yard that might present a hazard to visitors.
  • Drive slowly all evening—you never know what creature may suddenly cross your path.
  • Report any suspicious or criminal activity to your local sheriff’s or police department.

Thanks to Ventura County Sheriff’s Office – Moorepark Station for their helpful list of safety tips!

Please leave us a comment if you have any other tips to share!