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How parents and the community can keep kids safe

Posted at 7:00 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 22:00:55-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Over 900 cases of runaway juveniles have been reported to the Bakersfield Police Department in 2020. That means on average about 37 cases a week have been reported.

Police are still looking for 16-year-old Brisa Torres who was last seen July 2 around 11:15 a.m. in the area of Mendocino Drive near Calloway and Brimhall. Police say she's 5-foot-5, 125 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a burgundy hoodie and black sweatpants. Police say she has a happy face tattoo on her right ankle and was seen getting into a white Chevy pickup.

Officials are also asking for the public's help in finding another missing teen. Katlyn Kinoshita who is 17-years-old was last seen on July 4th at 3:30 a.m., in the 3800 block of Monitor Street. She is considered at risk due to a medical condition.

Last year there were 120 missing children cases were reported, and over 2,400 runaway juvenile reports were filed according to the Bakersfield Police Department.

Sergeant Robert Pair encourages parents to know their child's social media accounts and passwords. He also stated that having more information is helpful in finding missing or runaway children because time is of the essence. While there hasn't been an increase in missing juvenile cases this year, Sergeant Pair said it doesn't mean parents should be aware of their kids surroundings, even online.

Rachel Rivera, who is the Community Relations Specialist for the Bakersfield Police Department said many kids use social media without parental monitoring and that could lead to problems.

"We are seeing very devastating situations come about because of the level of freedom these kids have and the fact that they rely on adults not understanding how TikTok works, how snapchat works. If you don't know what your kids are using, they are using it in ways that you don't even want to think about," said Rivera.

Rivera adds parents should be hyper vigilant about knowing who their children are friends with and their social media passwords. Especially right now with social media being a way to stay connected since quarantine.

"Most kids believe they have privacy rights and they believe their parents have no business checking up on who they're talking to, what apps they're using and what posting. That's absolutely not true. If you pay for the device it's yours," said Rivera.

As for those who may see a situation that doesn't seem right, officials say trust your instincts. Rivera also said it never hurts to call officials and if you do call try and give as much information as possible. Such as a license plate number, make and model of a vehicle or distinguishing physical marks.

"It's important to not write off those feelings and say oh that's probably nothing I don't need to get involved. Maybe you do need to get involved," said Rivera.