Ocean Springs police address online safety of children amid substitute teacher investigation

OSPD's Criminal Investigative Captain, Ryan Lemaire discusses what preventative measures parents can use moving forward.
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 8:29 PM CDT
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - On Tuesday, WLOX broke the news of a disturbing incident where a man had been dismissed and later arrested over accusations of inappropriate behavior involving children attending Ocean Springs Middle School.

The suspect has now been charged with one count of exploitation of a child and one count of lustful touching of a child.

The Ocean Springs Police Department identified the suspect as 21-year-old KeShawn Belcher. Belcher was previously hired from a local agency as a substitute teacher at the school.

According to OSPD, evidence was found of Belcher contacting multiple students through social media with explicit video content.

The alarming news has raised major concern among parents and educators about the safety of the children and how to detect red flags of potential predators. WLOX spoke with OSPD’s Criminal Investigative Capt. Ryan Lemaire to learn what preventative measures parents can use moving forward.

“The best thing for parents to do is be up to date on what app their kids are using and being friends with them,” he says. “You know, being their friends on that social media account. There’s apps that you can get where you can monitor what apps they’re using and what they’re doing on them.”

Lemaire also strongly advises parents to stay abreast of online trends and maintain open communication with their children daily.

“There are privacy settings and I know through iPhone you can actually get their messages they’re getting in and out, and sitting down and talking to them,” he said, “Talking to your children about being safe online, and what they’re looking at, and who they’re friends with.”

A preliminary hearing will be held in the next couple of weeks with the entire investigation possibly taking up to six months. We will provide more updates as we learn more information.

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