AG investigator to speak to Petal students on cyber crimes

By HASKEL BURNS,

According to a 2014-2015 survey conducted by Pew Research Center, 94 percent of teenagers in America who go online using a mobile device do so daily, and 71 percent of teenagers use more than one social media platform, whether that be Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter.

To help spread awareness of the safe use of those platforms, Jay Houston, who serves as chief investigator of the Cybercrime Division at Attorney General Jim Hood’s office, will hold a presentation at 6 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Petal Performing Arts Center adjacent to Petal High School. Adults and students are invited to attend to learn the latest online trends, tips on Internet safety and how to protect themselves from cyberbullying and harassment while navigating social media.

“Over the past years, we’ve just seen a trend of social media causing issues and problems in the school district,” said Gavin Guy, chief of the Petal Schools Police Department. “So we just want to try to reach out to the parents, and also to the students, on how dangerous social media can be and the laws about sharing obscene pictures and anything like that.”

School officials are spreading the word over the Petal School District’s website, and are planning to send literature home to parents to let them know about Houston’s visit.

“I hope it’s a good turnout, because I think it’s very good information that all the parents need to know for the safety of the kids,” Guy said. “And also, the kids need to know the law side of it, and how dangerous it is and that they could get in trouble for some of the things they’re doing.

“I’m hoping for around 300 or 400 people, and I hope more than that. The (performing arts center) holds 900, so I’d like to see us pack it out.”

Houston has served as the deputy commander and the commander of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force since 2008, and was recently promoted to head of the Cybercrime Division. He has 10 years of experience in ICAC investigations and holds professional certifications as a Certified Forensic Computer Examiner, as well as several certifications in cellular device extractions.

For more information, contact Guy at (601) 544-7342.

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