How to protect your loved ones from predators

WWSB ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 7:52 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office says there could still be more victims that were sexually abused by Nicholas Bassler Jr. and Sierra Campany, who were arrested last week.

Experts say it’s now easier than ever for criminals to sexually abuse and exploit children as kids spend more time online.

According to the National Cerner for Missing and Exploited Children, there were more than 57,000 reports related to child sexual abuse material in Florida last year.

“They are getting phones at a younger age now than they used to and they have internet much more available to them,” says Celeste Martens of Manatee Children’s Services.

She says their clinical department treats about 200 kids a year, a majority of whom have been sexually abused.

“There’s an abrupt change in behavior, maybe they become more distant, their grades start to fall,” Martens says, describing signs of abuse.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Larry Long says they are working every day to help keep kids safe online.

“We try to take a proactive role in conducting undercover investigations online to try to weed out these predators and offenders before they even have access to any of these children,” Long says, adding parents should familiarize themselves with the latest technology to best protect their kids in a digital world that is always changing.

“It is very difficult for parents to keep up with that. What they need to do is constantly educate themselves on the new applications that are out there,” says Long.

MCSO says if you know of any child who has had any contact with either Bassler Jr. or Campany, to contact Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Crimes Against Children detectives at (941) 747-3011 Ext. 2522.