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Students and parents in Teton County learn about dealing with social media threats

Parents and students in Teton County learn about social media threats
Parents and students in Teton County learn about social media threats
Posted at 11:15 AM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 13:15:37-05

The Teton County Sheriff’s Office is trying to help parents help the authorities stop the person who is using social media to blackmail young girls.

A community meeting was held at Fairfield High School Wednesday night, and about two dozen parents showed up.

Two deputies told them what they know about the investigation, how to talk to their kids about this situation, and educated them about how SnapChat and other social media apps work.

The Sheriff’s Office says someone is using SnapChat to trick young girls into sending them compromising pictures. Once the pictures are sent, the suspect says if they don’t send more pictures the ones they’ve already sent will be publicized.

"It was eye-opening, but these issues are out there,” Wendy Garner, who has a 16-year-old son, said after the meeting. “(I’m) very concerned, whether it's a boy or a girl, them falling into whatever the person is doing.”

Wendy Garner
Wendy Garner

The Sheriff’s Office has not released the suspect’s account username to the general public, but did share it with Teton County students during assemblies held over the past week to discuss this case with them.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Deputy Mark Grove encouraged parents not to make their kids feel like they’re going to be in trouble if they sent pictures. “If they were victims, and I asked them (at the assemblies) ‘What would be the thing that would hold you back the most?’ they said their parents. The disappointment in their parents, their parents getting mad at them, punishing them,” said Grove. “They already know they’re in too deep when it gets to that point. What they need is, they need a way to say ‘help.’"

Deputies say parents should get the suspect’s account username from their kids and then share it with others so they can be aware, but they asked parents not to share it on social media in an effort to not tip off the suspect.

If you get a friend request from the suspect on your phone, do not accept it.

Put the phone in airplane mode so the request won’t be deleted and then contact the sheriff’s office so someone can come look at the phone.

One parent asked about taking screenshots. The deputies said that is an option, but also cautioned against it as the suspect will get a notification that a screenshot has been taken.