February 24, 2024

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Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Cherylann Roberson speaks to youth about the dangers of online predators Aug. 31 at Hamilton’s Center Hill Baptist Church.
Monroe County Chief Deputy Billy Richey displays an example of illegal narcotics as part of the presentation.

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Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Cherylann Roberson speaks to youth about the dangers of online predators Aug. 31 at Hamilton’s Center Hill Baptist Church.
Monroe County Chief Deputy Billy Richey displays an example of illegal narcotics as part of the presentation.

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HAMILTON – Center Hill Baptist Church welcomed youth group members and families Aug. 31 for lessons about dangers lurking online and through the temptation of trying drugs. Monroe County Chief Deputy Billy Richey and investigator Cherylann Roberson led the discussion.
“Have self-respect for yourself. Don’t share pictures that you wouldn’t want your mom and dad to see because it can absolutely come back to haunt you and make your life very difficult. Once it’s on the internet, it’s never coming back,” Roberson said.
She works closely with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office’s Cyber Crimes Division.
Richey explained the capabilities of a phone dump, meaning every deleted photo and video is still accessible. He and Roberson stressed that even though Snapchat photos delete themselves, they’re not gone for good.
“Once it’s on the internet, it’s never going away. Once it’s up there in the cloud, it’s up there and you cannot ever take it back,” she said.
Roberson added the attorney general’s office is notified when photos and videos suspicious of child sex material are detected, which pinpoints computer IP addresses and trickles to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
“I’m going to get those pictures then I’m going to call your parents and try to see what’s going on,” she said.
Roberson cautioned teens about online predators who exploit others. Even though someone may think they’re messaging with someone their age, online predators can use fake profiles to find out details about people, such as where they live and their daily schedules, to prey on them.
“It could be a 50-year-old, a 60-year-old anywhere in the United States or in another country. They can take a random person’s photo and initiate the conversation,” she said, citing an example of someone sharing inappropriate photos through conversation. “They can say, ‘If you don’t give me $400, I am going to spread this picture all over the school. I am going to tell your parents and everyone you know.’ Then this child has to make a decision if they tell their mom what happened or do they need to steal money to pay this person?”
Warning signs teens should be aware of while talking to people online are phrases such as “Make sure your parents don’t know you’re talking to me” and “Make sure you delete this message.”
Roberson challenges parents to not be afraid to look through their children’s phones. She also warned of teens using dating sites and plugged the Bark and Parent 360 apps to help adults monitor their activity.
She added people would be surprised by how many predators are on the role playing video game, “Roblox,” saying it’s better to disable the chat option.
As far as illegal narcotics, Richey explained common drugs such as crack cocaine, marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine and Fentanyl.
“The number thing is to say no to drugs. They market to people because it’s a business. They’ll make it look like gummies and Sweet Tarts so be mindful if you run up on somebody and they ask you to try this,” he said. “At the end of the day, narcotics is a business. The main guy wants people to get hooked on it.”
While he said illegal narcotics can’t completely be eliminated, nearly 30 felony drug arrests have been made in the past two months by the MCSO.
“What you guys need to know is you need to stay away from it. You’re not going to use poison or drink gasoline because it will kill you, and drugs are the same way. Stay away from the people who do it. If you see it, tell your parents. They have an outlet to tell us, and we can investigate it. It’s not cool at all, and you’ll end up in the hospital or with me,” Richey said.
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