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James L. White/Staff

Harrison Police Detective Cpl. Ted Schaeffer spoke to students in a computer networking class at North Arkansas College about ways sexual predators can use social media to stalk potential victims.

A computer networking class at North Arkansas College recently got a little computer instruction they didn’t expect.

Harrison Police Detective Cpl. Ted Schaeffer spoke to the class about the use of social media and how sex offenders or predators can use it to mark potential victims.

Schaeffer told students that the sex offender registry is unique in that it’s the only criminal registry. For instance, there’s no registry for narcotics and burglary convicts.

He said the reason is that for most crimes people can be rehabilitated, but there is no way to rehabilitate a sex offender.

One student said she had taken a psychology class in which some psychiatrists argued that there is rehabilitation for sex offenders.

Schaeffer said that argument is made largely because offenders are taught suppression techniques. They may be able to avoid the situations that made them offend in the first place, but those sexual urges are always present from puberty to the grave.

The sex offender registry is based on the theory that presence is prevention. When people see a police car at the side of the road, they instinctively slow down.

With the registry, the community and police are aware of who are sex offenders, who also have a lingering fear of being arrested again.

But before an offender is arrested, they can easily use social media to stalk victims.

Schaeffer shared with students a 2014 story in the Harrison Daily Times in which a man who had been arrested for sexual assault of underage girls agreed to be interviewed, although he declined to allow the newspaper to use his real name and was identified as “Jack.”

Jack explained that he always used Facebook to meet young girls, although any internet site with private message capabilities would suffice. It also helps if the site allows users to upload photos.

He’d research their profiles, reading past posts and checking out pictures. He’d look for pictures they posted of themselves in skanky clothing or at parties with older guys.

“You know what kind of girl she is,” he told the Daily Times. “It’s easy to read people by how they represent themselves with their clothing and their attitude, previous posts on Facebook.

“If they’re talking about going out and partying in a previous post, even though she’s 12 to 15, if she’s got a bunch of pictures on there of her at a party, you know she loves to party. That opens up a new conversation.”

Jack had also said he would make contact with a number of girls before connecting with one, so it was a numbers game like most other internet scams.

So, Schaeffer urged students to check their social media feeds and profiles, making certain they — even though not under age — could prevent falling victim to a sexual predator.

Than can mean checking friend lists; a predator could easily be checking them as well.

(1) comment

oncefallendotcom

Wow, talk about an out of touch cop! This guy has no idea what he is saying.

1. You may not have "other registries" in Arkansas, but across the countries, we DO have registries for other types of crimes. Here in Ohio where I live, we have an arsonist registry.

2. Reoffense rates for people convicted of sexually based offenses are far lower than any other crime type. They are unique, alright-- uniquely low.

3. This cop is admitting to using the registry as an intimidation tool. That being said, the registry has been proven ineffective. That means it DOES. NOT. WORK!

4. This guy makes an erroneous assumption every registrant suffers from an illness and cannot be "cured." Very few offenders are of the "fixated" variety. I'd trust decades of research over a lone cop who only has "the beat" as a reference point.

This guy was at the college, so maybe he should have enrolled in school since he obviously needs an education!

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