HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Cyber-bullying, sexting and sextortion are growing problems among teenagers, and the Waveland Police Department wants parents to help them put a stop to it.
Monday night, the department held the first of a series of forums designed to arm parents with the information they need to monitor their children's cell phone activity. The goal is to prevent cyber crimes from damaging a child's future.
Police put the faces of 12 teenagers on a projection screen. They were the faces of young people across the nation, victimized by cyber crimes.
"All of those beautiful children up there have killed themselves from cyber bullying. This is a huge problem and it's getting worse and it's getting bigger, " said Waveland Police Chief David Allen.
Allen knows how quickly lives can be destroyed by cyber crimes, but said unfortunately kids are engaging in the behavior at younger ages.
"We've had sex-ting cases with kids as young as ten sending bad pictures. Not just chest shots, bad pictures," explained the chief.
"Folks, some of these videos we're seeing make a porno movie look like a Disney movie," Investigator Matt Sekenger said.
Sekenger said in a matter of minutes, the damage is done.
"You send a few pictures to your boyfriend, next week you break up, guess what's going to happen to all those pictures? They are going out to all his buddies."
The police chief said the best way to combat the problem is to know what your teen is doing.
"Snatch up those cell phones and go to town. Look through the cell phone. You are paying for it, anyway."
He said don't always expect to find nude photos in their photo galleries. Explicit photos and text messages are often hidden through various apps. Kick Messenger is one of the most used. Snap Chat is another popular app among teens.
"Two people have Snap Chat. You can take a picture of whatever and send it to the other person and it automatically self destructs after a couple of seconds," Allen said. "An automatically self destructing picture. How many valid usages for that can you think of as a parent? It automatically deletes itself after a couple of seconds. There is a reason for that app."
It's information concerned parents and grandparents said they needed to hear.
"This is a serious problem and if we don't attack it now it's not going to go away. We have children that are being seriously injured, physically and emotionally," said Jerry Pryor of Pass Christian.
Monday night's forum for parents was held at Bay-Waveland Middle School. This Friday and next Monday, Waveland police will educate students on how to not become a victim of cyber crimes.