SHERIFF JACK PARKER: A Word of Warning to Parents

By  //  October 29, 2012

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GUEST COLUMNIST

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Would it surprise you to learn that one of the most dangerous threats facing parents today comes from home computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones and video game systems? 

There are a variety of issues that parents need to be aware of in order to be in a better position to protect their children.  The following are some examples of threats to the safety of children that law enforcement is observing.

Teens sometimes engage in an activity known as “sexting” where they will text or email nude photographs or videos to each other. (Shutterstock image)

Sexting:  Teens sometimes engage in an activity known as “sexting” where they will text or email nude photographs or videos to each other.  It is not unusual for a relationship to sour and for the photographs to be posted publicly in an attempt to bully or humiliate the victim.  Often, the exposed teen is too embarrassed to tell their parents and the bullying continues.  This humiliation is often so unbearable for a child that it can tragically lead to severe depression, drug abuse and even suicide.

Child Pornography:  It is not uncommon for teenagers to share information with each other about pornographic websites, which they can easily access after lying about their age.  These sites often have “video chat rooms” which allows the teen to videoconference with the “adult entertainer.”  These adult entertainers may even coax teenagers into performing a sex act, which can be covertly recorded using the teen’s own webcam which may then be sold to child pornographers.

Pedophile Deception:  Adult pedophiles sometimes masquerade as teenagers  in an effort to gain the trust of unsuspecting teens.  They use fake photos and profiles and work over weeks, even months, to build trust with the teen.

Pedophiles are patient and may cultivate relationships with dozens of teens simultaneously. As the relationship progresses, the pedophile will begin requesting photos and will encourage sexually graphic conversations. Keep in mind the teenager believes they are falling in love with someone their age. The pedophile will eventually reveal his real age and will demand sexual contact.

Pedophiles are patient and may cultivate relationships with dozens of teens simultaneously.  As the relationship progresses, the pedophile will begin requesting photos and will encourage sexually graphic conversations.  Keep in mind the teenager believes they are falling in love with someone their age.  The pedophile will eventually reveal his real age and will demand sexual contact.

The victim’s whole world is suddenly turned upside down and they don’t know where to turn.  If the teen does not comply with the demands, the pedophile will threaten to ruin the teen’s life by sharing the explicit messages and photographs with their friends, their parents and school.  It is not unusual for a teen in this situation to succumb to the pressure and threats or become suicidal, or both.

There is nothing sadder for a law enforcement officer investigating a teen suicide to determine the teen felt driven to suicide because they had made “a terrible mistake” and were too embarrassed to approach their parents for help.

What can we do as parents to better protect our children?  

• We can continue to educate ourselves about existing Internet threats.

• We can talk honestly to our children about the threats and make sure they know they can come to us about anything that bothers them.

Parents should place computers in a visible area of the home, which will discourage children and teens from visiting inappropriate websites.

• We can place our computers in a visible area of the home, which will discourage children and teens from visiting inappropriate websites.

• We can create rules for Internet use such as when and where internet access is allowed.

• We can ask ourselves if providing our children portable devices such as laptops, tablets and smart phones with internet access is really necessary?

• We can ensure we are aware of all websites our children visit and that we have full access and knowledge of all passwords our children use for access.

• We can maintain awareness of all means of communication to include our children’s gaming systems (ie: PS3, Xbox, etc.) and we can learn how to navigate these systems to scan for inappropriate material or access.

There are software products on the market which can help you determine if your child has been observing inappropriate images on a computer.

If you would like a copy of the Sheriff’s Office Cyber Safety video with investigative software, please contact the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office at 321-264-5201 or send an email to admin@bcso.us and we will mail you a copy at no cost.

ABOUT SHERIFF JACK PARKER

‘Get Involved and Make Life Better, Safer and Easier For Someone’

“We are on this earth for a very short time and we need to take advantage of every minute we have to make things better and safer for our children,” says Brevard Sheriff Jack Parker.

Parker has been walking this walk for a quarter of a century, since he started by delivering Christmas presents to the children at the then small Crosswinds shelter in Merritt Island. Invited to join the board, he took up the challenge of helping the shelter become a major and vital agency for young people.

“I was impressed with what a small group of people could do for children when they worked together,” said Parker.

As Parker was promoted through the ranks, he felt compelled to do more, pitching in to help organizations and initiatives such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Making Strides against Breast Cancer walks, Brevard Community College Foundation, American Cancer Society, the Juvenile Assessment Center, AMIKids, Brevard Police Athletic League, the Children’s Advocacy County, the Space Coast Early Intervention Center, Take Stock in Children, March of Dimes and Cystic Fibrosis.

BREVARD COUNTY SHERIFF JACK PARKER’s philanthropic support has had a huge impact with many organizations including the United Way, Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Making Strides against Breast Cancer walks, Brevard Community College Foundation, American Cancer Society, the Juvenile Assessment Center, AMIKids, Brevard Police Athletic League, the Children’s Advocacy Council, the Space Coast Early Intervention Center, Take Stock in Children, March of Dimes and Cystic Fibrosis. (Image for Space Coast Medicine & Active Living)

When Parker was a major in the Sheriff’s Office, United Way of Brevard president Rob Rains approached him for guidance.

“He told me the Sheriff’s United Way campaign was dead last in the state and he hoped I could encourage some participating among my peers,” said Parker.

“I did not know much about the United Way so I started to learn. The more I learned, the more important I knew our local United Way was.”

Under Parker’s leadership, the campaign jumped from $30,000 in pledges in 2004 to more than $170,000, making it the leading Sheriff’s Office campaign in the state. As overall county campaign chair in 2009, Parker helped the United Way break previous records with a new total of $6.4 million dollars.

Brevard County Sheriff Jack Parker’s Paws & Stripes program trained prison inmates to care for and train shelter dogs previously considered unadoptable, so both the humans and the animals receive a new lease on life. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

Parker’s energies have been recently focused in helping the Boys and Girls Clubs raise the $1.8 million needed to establish a new Cocoa club. “We have collected $1.5 million and the club should open its doors in the very near future,” he said.

Parker’s Paws & Stripes program trained prison inmates to care for and train shelter dogs previously considered unadoptable, so both the humans and the animals receive a new lease on life.

Jack Parker is no stranger to awards, having been recognized as Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by his peers and Man of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida. The American Red Cross named him a Star of the Space Coast and Junior Achievement presented him with its Spirit of Achievement Award. Senator Bill Posey honored Parker with the Quality Floridian Award in 2007 and Parker’s alma mater, the University of Central Florida, commended him with the Notable Knight Award.

He has saved the taxpayers millions of dollars by thoughtful administration of county jail facilities. He put inmates to work growing food to supplement the jail’s food budget, rebuilding bikes for needy children and homeless veterans and cleaning more than two million pounds of trash from the roadways.

He is no stranger to awards, having been recognized as Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by his peers and Man of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida. The American Red Cross named him a Star of the Space Coast and Junior Achievement presented him with its Spirit of Achievement Award. Senator Bill Posey honored Parker with the Quality Floridian Award in 2007 and Parker’s alma mater, the University of Central Florida, commended him with the Notable Knight Award. That’s just a few of the many kudos given to the sheriff.

He has spent his life protecting and caring for the people of his beloved Brevard County, but Parker says he has gained at least as much as he has given.

“I think the happiest and most fulfilled people in the world are the ones that take the time to serve and help others in some way,” he said.

“If you want to be a happier person, get involved and make life better, safer and easier for someone.”

CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL THE 2012 CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIANS

ABOUT THE 2012 CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIAN AWARDS

The Central Florida Humanitarian Awards were created to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that dedicate their Time, Talent or Treasure to help people in need locally – and around the world. 

This year, more than 40 deserving humanitarians will be honored during the Gala, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place, with the festivities beginning at 6 p.m.

“Over the years, our editorial team has had the distinct honor and pleasure of identifying and featuring the many members of our community who give back so much and are dedicated to reaching out and helping others, here and throughout the world, in a multitude of ways,” said Maverick Multimedia Editor-In-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo.

All Humanitarian alumni are presented a specially commissioned medallion.

“We remain firmly committed to identifying and telling those stories and providing a timely media platform to recognize Space Coast and Central Florida residents’ altruistic contributions on a regular basis in our magazines, as well as SpaceCoastDaily.com,” said Dr. Palermo.

This inspiring and compelling event is sponsored by Brighthouse Networks, Health First, Brevard Physicians Network, MPAC ACO, Community Credit Union, Kindred Hospital, Knudson Brain & Spine Law Injury Office, Florida Pain, Space Coast Medicine & Active Living magazine, CentralFloridaMedicine.com and SpaceCoastDaily.com.

FOR MORE INFORMATION or to make a reservation to attend the Central Florida Humanitarian Awards Gala call 321-615-8111 or e-mail SpaceCoastMedicine@gmail.com.


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