ON YOUR SIDE: Sex, cell phones and social media safety

Free presentation by Lee Co. District Attorney could save your child's future

LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) - An essential items in your child's life is their smartphone, but it comes attached with serious dangers. A free presentation by the Lee County District Attorney's Office could be the most critical hour of your year when it comes to protecting your children from social media dangers.

Online predators are using social media as a window into your child's life. Plus, your kids can be committing severe felonies through their online behavior. The Lee County District Attorney's Office discusses this, and a host of other topics during their presentation is called, "Sex, Cell Phones, and Social Media Safety."

Monday, March 19th at Smiths Station Junior High is a must-attend event so parents can understand the hidden dangers attached to their smartphones.

"We have to understand they have a powerful computer in their hands. Knowledge is power, and the more parents know, the better off their children are going to be. There is no question in my mind about that," said Brandon Hughes.
As a parent and a district attorney, Hughes is urging other moms and dads, grandparents and caregivers to realize how dangerous their child's cell phone and social media apps can be.

- 65% boys report they've been involved in cyber-bullying

- Teen suicide has increased by 200% percent since 2007

- The FBI reports a 2,000% increase in child porn since 1996

- 70% of 7 to 18-year-olds report encountering online pornography on accident

- 22% of teenage girls have posted a nude or semi-nude photo or video of themselves online

"I think the most surprising and scary part for parents is the felony offenses kids can be committing and they don't even realize they are committing," said Hughes.

Hughes says "sexting" involving nude photo's, can lead to your child being convicted of a felony and having to register as a sex offender.

"Just as an example, if a 16-year-old girl takes a picture of her breast and sends it to her boyfriend, she's produced child porn, and she has disseminated it. Now, the boyfriend has it on his phone; he is also in possession of it. Let's say he sends it to his friends or buddies; now he's disseminated child pornography," Hughes explained.
The presentation also discusses apps to watch out for because they become a haven for predators.

"It doesn't take much for the criminal mind to figure out a way to weed themselves in and become a chameleon. Your child thinks they are talking to someone who is 12, 13, 14 who is a man in his 30, 40, 50's. They don't know until it's too late," warned Hughes.
Finally, the presentation does discuss online threats.  A timely topic considering in the last few weeks, two Lee County students are facing charges of making terroristic threats, a felony, after allegedly threatening to harm their schools.

"The kid in Florida that shot up the school said the same thing, and he wasn't taken seriously. So today you have to.  I am convinced kids now days understands this is a big deal and not a joking matter," said Hughes.

The District Attorney's Office is urging all parents to please show up at Smiths Station Junior High,  March 16th (Monday night) at 6:00 p.m. eastern time,  so you can learn information and keep your child safe.


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