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Missoula PD offers tips to keep kids safe online

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Parents get a cyber safety education lesson at Hellgate Elementary School. (MTN News photo) Parents get a cyber safety education lesson at Hellgate Elementary School. (MTN News photo)
MISSOULA -

Cyber crime is by no means a new phenomenon, but with the widespread use of Internet-capable devices by children, many parents may not be up to date on how to keep their kids safe online.

That's something that Detective Chris Shermer with the Missoula Police Department hopes to change. He's working to educate parents and students of the potential dangers children face when unsupervised online.

Shermer says even seemingly harmless apps like Snapchat and Twitter can lead to harassment and abuse. But bullying isn't the only potential danger lurking online - Shermer also talked about the dangers of sexting.

He pointed out on Wednesday at Hellgate Elementary School that if a child under the age of 18 takes nude photos, they are guilty of creating and owning child pornography.

A warning was also issues about cyber stalkers -- Adults who groom children, convincing them to send illicit photos and release private information.

"So the task force came together to provide presentation materials for the parents, for the kids and tell them what we're looking for when it comes to crimes that they're committing, if it's sending inappropriate images or cyberbullying," Shermer explained.

Shermer says often parents don't feel comfortable checking their child's phone, but that it may be necessary to ensure they are using the Internet safely. There are several ways of determining whether a child is being groomed online by a potential abuser.

If you suspect your child may be in danger online, call the Cyber Tip Hotline at 1-800-843-5678

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