May 26, 2011 1:14 AM by Danielle Lerner

Officers warn parents about social networking sites after sex offender arrest

Officers in Paso Robles want you to be extra aware about online dangers after arresting a local man for sexually victimizing three teenage girls.

Police and State Parole agents arrested 25-year-old Shaun Harrison on April 6. He was taken into custody for violating terms of his parole. Officers took Harrison's computer and cell phone. When they checked out the files inside they say they found he had sexually victimized three girls between the ages of 13 and 17.

The Megan's Law website says Harrison was previously convicted of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14.

It is something no parent wants to happen, a registered sex offender contacting their child in cyberspace. Officers in Paso Robles say that is exactly how Harrison found at least three victims, through sites like Facebook, MySpace, Zoosk and PlentyofFish.

"It's a great opportunity for us to encourage parents to be aware of what their children are doing on the internet, on social media networks," said Lt. Ty Lewis of the Paso Robles Police Department.

The warning comes at a time when users are getting younger. A recent Consumer Reports survey found Facebook has 7.5 million users under the site's required minimum age of 13. More than 5 million are younger than 10.

"Some parents, they're really strict on their kids so they actually look at what they're doing, like every second, and some parents they don't really care what they're on," said 13-year-old Julia Lee.

"They kind of know what I do, I'm mostly just online looking for cars and music stuff," said Joe Karels, who lives in San Luis Obispo.

Experts recommend keeping the computer in a visible place, understand and control your child's profile settings, talk to them about internet dangers and be nosey.

"She knew people could walk in on her and look over her shoulder ," said Julie Martin, who lives in Nipomo and has a 20-year-old daughter.

"I do know of a couple of teenagers that, they were contacted by a predator and they got him just in time but it's like, you never know who they're going to target," said Silvia Ramirez, who lives in San Luis Obispo and has two children.

Both Facebook and MySpace have safety centers where you can learn even more about protecting your family and your information.

We've posted links to both of those in the Newslinks section of ksby.com.

Officers Wednesday released photos of Shaun Harrison and his car to the public. They are asking parents to share the pictures with their children, to see if they have come in contact with him.


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