Youth court officer gives lessons in phone safety at Hamilton High School

Deputy Tyrone Heard says sharing inappropriate content is no laughing matter

HAMILTON, Miss. (WCBI) – A local youth court officer is warning young people to be careful before they take any photos they wouldn’t want shared, and also to think twice before making any threats online or through text messages.

As youth court officer for Monroe County, Deputy Tyrone Heard is seeing more minors brought in on charges relating to misuse of their phones and other electronic devices. Deputy Heard said many of the cases involve inappropriate photos or videos sent to a boyfriend or girlfriend, threats, and bullying.

“I think we need to take this a little bit more seriously because it is serious and it is getting worse and worse every day,” Heard said.

That’s why Heard did a presentation in the Hamilton school gym, encouraging responsible use of their mobile phones.

With the help of two student volunteers, Heard showed how quickly an image the sender thought was private, can be shared.

Also, Heard said that even if a threat or other illegal content is deleted, it never goes away.

“If it is something serious we have the capability and one of our investigators we can dump a phone, get information off a phone,” Heard said.

Students said the presentation was eye-opening and informative.

“So many girls are impacted by that, not only girls but boys are impacted by that and to be able to play that role and spread awareness was amazing,” said Hamilton High School Junior Paris Fields.

“Everyone knows about this, they don’t know the extreme of what they’re doing, they know it’s wrong but they don’t think one day they could go to court over this, they could end up on a list, a whole bunch of things could happen,” said Hamilton High School Junior Kameron Walker.

Principal Michelle Stevens said oversight must come from the school and the students’ homes.

“Students need to be aware of the different social media apps and I encourage parents to have access to their students’ accounts and passwords, to see who they’re talking to and what they’re sending out. Our teachers try and educate our students about social media, it’s important for school and parents to work together to keep kids safe,” Stevens said.

The presentations will continue throughout the district next school year. Heard said he would rather talk with the students about the issues now, on campuses, instead of dealing with them in youth court.

Heard reminded everyone that any threat, whether to an individual, school, or business made through text or online and any inappropriate content is investigated by authorities.

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