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Springboro police investigation finds no threat to schoolgirls from Instagram messenger, chief says

Here are tips to protect your kids
Posted: 3:41 PM, Aug 16, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-17 14:25:03-04

SPRINGBORO, Ohio – Springboro parents will be relieved.

Police say they investigated a possible Instagram stalker contacting schoolgirls in the area and are confident that he poses no threat.

The person has been identified as a 31-year-old man in North Carolina "suffering from a mental disability and also autistic," Springboro police Chief Jeffrey P. Kruithoff said in a release Wednesday. The man has "no access to transportation and poses no danger to anyone in Ohio," the chief said.

Springboro police have been in contact with the man and his father, Kruithoff said. "The male will not have computer privileges for the foreseeable future," the chief said.

The investigation found no criminal activity and no charges will be filed, Kruithoff said.

The community became concerned after a cheerleading coach sent an email warning that some sixth-grade cheerleaders had received messages from someone who presented himself as a Justin Bieber look-alike. He asked the girls for personal information and invited them to meet him at a popular ice cream hangout after school.  

The man obtained the girls' phone numbers and information about where they meet from their public posts on social media, Kruithoff said.

"This investigation highlights the need to ensure our young people are using safe practices when using social media websites," the chief said. "Parents should diligently monitor the use of social media by their children. Children should be instructed to avoid posting any identifying information or contact information on a website and to not accept any friend requests from people they don't know."

Tips for keeping kids safe on Instagram

WCPO wants to be on your side, so we dug up some tips from parents, users and Instagram itself.

Most encourage users to keep profiles private and don't use photo mapping or hashtags. If you absolutely have to use hashtags, don't use suggestive ones that predators would predictably search.

If your profile is private and you photo map an image, the public won’t be able to see it, but your followers still will.

Instagram's  Privacy and Safety Center  includes  Safety Tips for Users  as well as  Tips for Parents  and much more.

Instagram also recommends that parents check out  "A Parent’s Guide to Instagram" from their partners at  www.connectsafely.org

Here's an excerpt from one mother's cautionary tale.  Blogger Shaylene King writes:

"It doesn’t matter how responsible you are with social media if you are not  well informed with how it is being used. My sense of  “safe social media” came crumbling down when the computer teacher at the school I am teaching at dropped a bomb shell. Girls are being stalked by predators on Instagram and if an image is photo mapped they can know in less than 30 seconds exactly where a girl lives! Confident my daughter was using it safely, I had our computer teacher “stalk” my daughter using steps teenagers go through daily to post a picture on Instagram. My daughter had over 73 pictures photo mapped. Moments later, she was honing in on my street address and house. I was sick to my stomach."

SEE King's warning for other parents and her  tips for protecting kids.