H.B. police talk to parents about Internet safety

February 03, 2014|By Anthony Clark Carpio

Monitoring kids' online activities, becoming more familiar with the various social media platforms and smartphone applications, and knowing Internet login information were some of the tips parents received to protect their children from sexual predators.

Huntington Beach police detectives told parents Wednesday during an Internet safety presentation at the Central Library to be more involved in their children's social media activity.

The hourlong seminar was prompted by a recent local sexual predator case. Jackson Roland Westermeyer, 18, is accused of exchanging lewd photos and soliciting sex from minors in Huntington Beach and elsewhere.


"The sad thing is that this case is not unique," Det. Steve Fong said. "This happens all around."

To prevent additional teens from becoming victims, authorities discussed the types of social media platforms children are using nowadays and told parents they should keep up with the latest trends.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Skype have become household names over the past five years, but police told parents to keep an eye out for up-and-coming smartphone applications like Kik Messenger and Snapchat.

"They're coming out with new applications and new software all the time," Fong said. "As parents, we have to be working together with our kids to find out how to use these programs."

Additionally, authorities said parents should be aware of online computer games that allow their children to chat with others they are competing with.

Police played a video of a news story from 2008, when a man from Kelseyville, Calif., tried to entice a teenage girl from Salt Lake City to travel to the West Coast to meet him.

Authorities from Utah stopped the girl from making the trip, and the suspect, a 41-year-old man who had posed as a male teenager, was arrested; he eventually pleaded guilty to coercion and enticement for illegal sexual activity, according to a press statement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Huntington Beach detectives mentioned a similar incident that occurred locally in 2010, when a man from San Pedro was accused of sexually assaulting a female teenager he met on the social media website Myspace.

"The media highlighted this one incident. It doesn't mean this is the only incident," said Det. Trent Tunstall about the case from Utah. "It's happening in our city, it's happening in Orange County, all over California and across the U.S.

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