MOBILE, AL. (WALA)- It's a parents worst nightmare, your child taken advantage of by someone you trust. But, sadly, it happens all too often. 

Sgt. Joe Cotner has been working for the Mobile Police Special Victims Unit for two years.

He said an active role in your child's life is crucial to seeing warning signs of sexual abuse and preventing it from happening.

"Talking with your kids is the most important thing you can do. You need to find a way to open up those lines of communications with them. It'll help you know who they're talking to, who their friends are," Sgt. Cotner said.

Sean Howell appeared in front of a judge Tuesday, facing multiple charges of sexually abusing children under 12. Multiple people said he worked at a Saraland skating rink, a place frequented by minors, which gives parents more reason to be concerned. We've also heard stories recently about children being molested by family members and priests.

So who can parents trust?

Sgt. Cotner said, "That's one of the hardest things you can do as a parent. You have to know who your family members are and sometimes you don't know but a lot of times that's what you need to do. You need to know who your children are around. You need to be involved with their school, with their church, with their friends. If they're hanging out with adults, spending the night at other peoples house, you need to be involved and know who they are."

Sgt. Cotner also said if your child's behavior starts changing drastically, that could be a sign something traumatic happened, and again, the best thing to do is ask them!

If you think someone is preying on your child, call police right away.

All content © 2018, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.

Investigative Reporter

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