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‘America’s Most Wanted’ host visits Phoenix to promote online safety for teens

PHOENIX — A man who knows something about fighting crime wants to help parents keep their teens safe from online child predators.

“America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh is traveling the country pushing for safety when it comes to teens and social media and will be at Sky Junior High in Phoenix on Saturday as part of a program called “Parent University.”

He will talk to parents and kids about alarming statistics about online child predators.

“We’re going to talk to them about bullying, sexting and people who go online and get all kinds of information that can hurt that child,” Walsh said.

He said teens who check in somewhere, such as a mall or a movie theater, are putting themselves and their friends at risk.

“Forty percent of teens check in when they go somewhere, and they’re letting everyone, via social media, know where they are,” Walsh said. “Sixty percent say a friend will check them in somewhere and let everyone know where they are.”

The study, conducted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as Cox Communications, said that 31 percent of teens from Arizona have met up with someone they’ve met online. Walsh said although that’s far below the national average of 50 percent, it’s still too high.

He said one of the quickest solutions should be for parents to require their child add them on every social media account. The study shows 60 percent of Arizona teens said their parents have done nothing to monitor what they post online.

“Parent up — you need to be talking to your kids,” Walsh said. “These kids can be lured in, and make mistakes on the internet. You’re supposed to be their parent. You’re supposed to make them safe.”