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The Springfield Police Department has arrested and charged a 36-year-old man with enticement of a child. According to the department, Ezra Robert Gramm sent sexually explicit text messages to the cell phone a 13-year-old girl. The girl’s mother found the text messages and notified the police, which led to an investigation. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore spoke with the police department about how parents can take a proactive role in preventing sexual predators from enticing their children.
Major Kevin Routh said the 13-year-old girl met the suspect through an internet chat room. The girl ended up giving her cell phone number to the man.“Parents should always know, first of all, what sites their children are visiting on the internet. Secondly, if children are involved in social sites like facebook, the parents need to periodically monitor who their children are talking to,” Routh said.
He said the general rule to follow is: if you don’t know who you’re talking to, you probably shouldn’t be talking to them.
Routh said while parents want to give their children space and an opportunity to grow on their own, they must keep an eye on kids’ internet and cell phone usage for the sake of their safety.
“I think it’s a really good opportunity, once a story like this breaks, to sit down and talk with your children about ‘Hey, this is what just happened here in Springfield,’” Routh said.
He encourages parents to explain to their children that this situation involved a girl who thought she wasn’t taking any risks, but that it could have ended tragically. Parents should also outline how to be smart about whom kids give their phone numbers to, Routh said.
Lastly he added that the department has already received phone calls since this story first broke from parents whose children told them that they have also received text messages of a sexual nature from strangers.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.