PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) –Bay District School officials gave a crash course in online predators.
Today’s online landscape can be dangerous for kids. Many parents don’t know how to identify potential threats.
Parents learned about phone apps predators use, they learned how to talk to their kids about these issues and even saw a live demonstration of how predators work.
Panama City Beach Police Chief J.R. Talamantez and several of his officers conducted this course, the third in a series taking place this school year.
Parents and students sat in the Rutherford High School auditorium on Tuesday, Nov. 11, listening intently to police officers talk about the threats children face.
“The dangers facing our kids today go far beyond the understanding of the everyday parent,” said Panama City Beach Police Chief J.R. Talamantez.
Panama City Beach Police Chief J.R. Talamantez has extensive experience investigating cyber-related crimes. He’s been sharing his knowledge about the practices of online predators for many years.
“Getting this information out to our parents is vital and keeping our children safe,” Talamantez said.
Bay District Schools has asked Talamantez to conduct 5 of the ‘Parents against Predators’ workshops this school year. This one is number 3.
The workshop is divided into two sessions, one for the children and one for the parents.
“They’re separated because the adult component is pretty graphic. Chief Talamantez shares everything he can possibly share with the parents. And that includes some pretty graphic information and perhaps some graphic language,” said Bay District Schools Director of Communications Sharon Michalik.
Many of the parents are shocked to learn how quickly and easily predators try to groom kids for sexual encounters.
Chief Talamantez even performed a live demonstration on an anonymous chat website showing how easy it is for children to be exposed to predators.
“You’re not supposed to be the nice guy all the time. You’re supposed to be that person that intercepts that dangerous situation,” Talamantez said.
“It’s been a while and we’ve talked to our daughter about certain things but just i want to hear what’s happening these days that help protect her,” said parent Shaina Gardner.
The Central Panhandle Association of Realtors and Buffalo Rock Pepsi helped sponsor the event and a spaghetti dinner before the workshops.
Both believe in the mission.
“I have a daughter, she’s five, so that’s another reason why I like events like this because I need to learn about information that’s out there because we have to protect our kids,” said Buffalo Rock Regional Business Development Coordinator Philip Mallory.
Chief Talamantez says if you identify a threat on your child’s phone, don’t delete anything.
Instead, immediately contact authorities.
Apps to look out for:
Chief Talamantez also recommends monitoring your child’s social media including (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.)