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Undersheriff warns about Internet crimes against children

 

December 2, 2015

Havre Daily News/Roger Miller

Blaine County Undersheriff Jay Billmayer II talks Tuesday in the Havre High School auditorium about Internet safety for children and youths.

Blaine County Undersheriff Jay Billmayer II spent Tuesday evening at Havre High School discussing the growing dangers of Internet predators, and how sexual crimes against children can be prevented.

Billmayer, a former member of the Marine Corps, University of Montana graduate and currently part of theMontana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, started out with a disclaimer:

"I'm not going to sugarcoat this," the imposing officer with the big, round belt buckle said. He warned there would be graphic language and disturbing scenarios to follow.

It's a sophisticated world and the criminals are keeping up, if not ahead of the curve. Billmayer held up a smartphone and explained to the audience that it was no longer the car that was the "freedom piece." The cellphone was the new car.

Like all vehicles of freedom, technology has its drawbacks. Predators are prowling gaming forums, chat sites and popular social media sites. They gather all the information kids post anywhere on the Internet and use it to find out everything available about their next victims: what they look like, where they live and even when their parents are likely to be home. Then the perverts contact the children and pretend to be whomever they think will give them an advantage, he said. They say whatever it takes to get potential victims to let their guard down, and ultimately, to meet them.

"Meeting them is the goal. Once I get them out of the house, that's where it gets interesting," one convicted offender's statement said.

Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs primarily between mobile phones. It's popular among teens. Billmayer mentioned a case where sexting led to a 15-year-old girl ending up of a sex slave.

As he told the story, the girl sent a guy nude photos. The guy wanted to meet the girl, but the girl refused. The guy threatened to give the picture to the parents and post it online if she didn't meet him. So the girl met the man, and that's when he abducted her. The man then gave the girl heroin and she became addicted. He introduced her to sex afterwards. Ultimately, the guy became the girl's pimp, the girl a sex slave.

Billmayer presented case after case of convicted sex offenders who used the Internet to meet and, in some cases, even go so far as murdering children after raping them.

The most important factor in preventing the perverts and predators from getting ahold of children is the parent, he said. A small group lingered after the talk, some folks mentioning their disappointment at the turnout. Approximately 30 people came to hear the presentation in the spacious auditorium. A good portion of those people were staff. Havre High School has more than 500 students.

Billmayer offered tips on how parents can play a major role.

• Communicate with your kids and ask them about their online activities

• Pay attention to their social media activity

• Do not post or share personal information on any site; no phone numbers or addresses

• Minimize child photos online

Flatten photos (remove info that enables predators to find location - use the program Irfanview for that)

• Increase Facebook security

•Do not share schedules or future plans

• Lastly, friend the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mticac. If potential predators see this, they might think twice, he said.

Billmayer finished the presentation with this: "Talk to your kids. Talk to your grandkids. Find out what they're doing online. It's a big deal. It's only going to get worse."

Billmayer can be reached at fbillmayer@blainecounty-mt.gov, or (406)357-2824.

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