Johnston Police Department and School District Educate Community on Cyber Threats

JOHNSTON, Iowa – Johnston Police Department and school district have partnered together to educate the community on how to handle inappropriate online messages.

The groups created a video explaining that just because someone sends you a message, does not mean you need to forward it on.

Inappropriate messages include: threats, sexting, gossip and inappropriate texts.

Johnston Police Department Lt. Tyler Tompkins said it sees cases from a variety of mobile apps, but the most common is Snapchat.

“An individual has a wide range of influence, and for someone who is 13, 14 or 15 to have influence over so many people is kind of new. Parents should be educating their kids on the front side, before they get these apps and then monitoring those apps when the kids do have them on their phone,” Thompkins said.

The police department asks people to take a screenshot of the inappropriate message and send it to the department. The reason for the screenshot, is due to the small amount of time Snapchat allows someone to view a message.

Thompkins advises parents to be well versed in all the apps that are on a child’s cell phone or electronic device.

“If you are not versed in it, I would say your kid probably shouldn’t have it. Unfortunately, that is the world we live in. I know it is asking a lot out of busy parents nowadays, but the ramifications could be criminal charges, could be school sanctions, the police showing up in the middle of the night to have a conversation about what was just sent over Snapchat,” Thompkins said.

Thompkins said one way to understand what is going on in a child’s life is to have conversations and spend quality time together.

“People need to know that everything they receive on social media isn’t true. Everything that they receive on social media not necessarily has validity into it. That’s why we ask people not to send it out to everyone. We ask them to send it to the police department,” Thompkins said.

Thompkins said the burden does not only rely just on parents, but also the whole community. If you receive any kind of threatening message to report it to police. They will know what measures to take next.

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