A Cumberland County mother told abc27 that someone who appeared to be an adult male reached out to her 12-year-old son through the photo and video sharing app: Instagram. Hampden Township Police say that person may have reposted the child's photos along with others and then claimed to have had sex with them.
Instagram prohibits users under the age of 13, but a quick browse shows there are ways around that.
"Instagram, Facebook and sharing videos on YouTube... Those things have replaced the phone calls of 20 to 30 years ago," said Kristin Houser of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
In this case the mother of one 12-year-old victim says that she was unaware her son was using Instagram on his iPod touch. It was a classmate's mother who called to inform her that a picture of her child's face was being used inappropriately.
According to police, someone commented on the boy's photo, engaging him and others in an argument. When the preteen looked at the users personal page, the child saw pictures of himself along with perverse claims.
"You can pose like you are the peer of children so the anonymity that the internet offers is the most attractive piece for those looking to exploit children," said Houser.
The mother abc27 spoke with said that her son and his friends flagged the photos as "inappropriate," causing Instagram to immediately close the unknown user's account. In turn, the user's information was lost, as per Instagram's policy.
Police have now filed warrants requesting that the app retrieve the lost information.