Internet and Cell Phone Safety for Teens.

1 Feb

We had an eye-opening presentation from George Mumma, Senior Investigator for the Juvenile Crime and Special Operations Unit in Jefferson County.

Officer Mumma gave us an overview of the juvenile crime system in Colorado and shared plenty of first-hand experiences with teens and tweens who face consequences for poor decisions.   Juvenile Court Magistrates (judges) can put criminal children in detention (jail) for any crime, sometimes up to 7 years (until they turn 18).  There is no separation of criminals in detention centers – kids who skip school are housed alongside violent criminals.  Also worth noting, juvenile crimes remain on an individual’s record forever.  When records are “expunged” they are not removed, but they can be sealed from public view, though this process takes a minimum of 5 years after the child turns 18.  Having a juvenile record will probably negatively affect college applications and job applications.  Officer Mumma emphasizes these sobering realities at presentations he conducts for teenagers at Jeffco schools.

Being involved in our children’s lives and keeping tabs on their internet and cell phone usage may help prevent some teens from perpetrating crimes.  Officer Mumma also suggests giving children cell phones that do not support internet or texting, sometimes called “four number cell phones”.  He also suggests not allowing cell phones or computers in kids’ bedrooms.  Sending an explicit photo via text is not a rare occurrence amongst teens today.  If the recipient of a “sext” then sends it on to their friends, that person could be charged with distribution of child pornography and may have to register as a sex offender.  Talking to our children about the potential consequences for their jokes and pranks could go a long way!  There is much more information available on the Jeffco website regarding internet and cell phone safety.

Other resources listed in a handout from Officer Mumma:
The Online Safety Project – http://www.safekids.com/
NetSmartz – http://www.netsmartz.org
My Mobile Watchdog cell phone safety – http://www.mymobilewatchdog.com/

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