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Cyber awareness dangers topic at PA City Hall

 

Think about what your kids are doing online.

That’s the starting point to ensure children do not fall victim to cyber-bullying, or worse yet, online predators.

Beaumont Police Detectives Darrell LeBeouf and Mike Nixon, with the special crimes unit, led off the daylong Cyber Security Awareness event Thursday.

Thursday’s event kicked off Cyber Security Awareness Month, a monthly observance each October to raise awareness and educate people about the importance of utilizing protective measures when using the Internet.

This year marks the fourth time the city has sponsored the event, and the 12th year the nation has set aside a time to discuss online security.

Nixon and LeBeouf started the day detailing how to protect children.

“You need to think about what your kids like to do,” LeBeouf said. “Some people don’t think about PlayStation, Xbox, or other gaming devices, but a lot of time this is used by cyber bullies and predators to get at children.”

Child predators typically introduce themselves as adults who are gaming authorities, beginning the process of gaining a child’s trust.

Parents should take the first steps in guarding their children by opening the conversation, letting them know the dangers lurking on the Internet and teaching them online manners, or netiquette, as it is called in the cyber world.

“Children know about sexting and pornography way before you think they do. One of the most important talks you can have with your child is about online predators,” Nixon said.

Contrary to what people think, online predators are normally not the old men, they are not pedophiles.

“Most sexual children’s cases we work are from someone the child knows,” LeBeouf said.

Most of the time an online predator is 26 years old, or older, and unlike pedophiles, they don’t take time to groom their victims. They are more interested in face to face, and will normally make plans to meet up,” LeBeouf said.

Victims are mostly girls, though 25 percent tend to be boys.

Parents should be aware of online grooming techniques. They include: children receiving gifts calling unknown numbers, rejecting their friends and family, getting upset when they are not online, or minimizing the screen when parents walk in.

If suspicious texts are discovered between a child and a suspects online predator, one should immediately save them since they will be needed in a police investigation, and later in court.

The officers also cautioned that parents should talk with their children about the dangers of posting nude, or partially nude photos.

Cyber bullying does not get physical, but can be just as harming, if not worse because emotional and psychological damage.

Because most kids are not the bully, but rather are bystanders, parents should talk with their children to tell them how to alert authorities that someone they know is being bullied.

The Cyber Security Awareness seminar continues at 9 a.m.Oct. 9 on the fifth floor of City Hall with presentations from Jim Cammack from Lamar State College – Port Arthur. Cammack will educate those in attendance on ways to protect from identity theft, data loss and privacy incursions.

Other topics include online banking safety presented by Gulf Credit Union and Social Media: Over sharing and Security, presented by Javier Barajas city of Port Arthur.

E-mail: skoonce@panews.comg

Twitter: sherryPANews