Parents: Have you heard about these apps your kids might be using?

Attorney shares key information to help keep teens safe

Parents: Have you heard about these apps your kids might be using?

MORGAN COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - A Hartselle attorney is an expert in social media apps and the dangers they pose for teens.

His words of advice come after a headline-making case this week involving a missing girl.

The Madison County teenager is back with her family after disappearing this week.

Paxton Glenn, 14, was found at an apartment building in Decatur Thursday night and later reunited with her parents.

Paxton left Sparkman ninth grade school Tuesday.

The sheriff's office says she had two friends pick her up in a van and take her to Morgan County to meet another teenager.

" We believe there was communication on social media apps that she was speaking with this other teenager and she was quite possibly speaking with the people that picked her up. We don't believe she was lured or met this person on social media. We believe they met at another time and they were just using it as a means of communication," said Lt. Donny Shaw.

No charges will be filed in the case.

Parents: Have you heard about these apps your kids might be using?

The sheriff's office encourages parents to find apps that can track their kids' social media usage and provide logs of their communication.

Paxton Glenn's mother said she does not have a cell phone, but was using her friends' phones at school.

"We've heard that she spoke about possibly running away. If you have a friend in elementary school, middle school, high school and you're seeing these signs, please go talk to a teacher, school resource officer or counselor, teacher or another adult about what you're seeing so they can get this child some help so it doesn't come to them actually taking the measures to run away," Lt. Shaw stated.

Patrick Caver shared information about the case with his Facebook followers this week.

When he isn’t in court handling cases, the Hartselle attorney is teaching parents across the Tennessee Valley the ABC’s of social media.

He walked through different apps and how they’re being used in a sexual way, including Episode.

"A lot of parents don't know that the characters in the game can go to a special place and they have sex with each other," Caver said.

There's also LiveMe.

"This is a new one that came out it's very bad. The predators are using it to get the kids to do things," Caver stated.

"Houseparty is really big in Morgan County right now and I think it's probably big in Madison County also. It's where you set yourself up at the party and anyone can just come into your video chat," Caver added.

He also talked about Musical.ly which is now TikTok.

“If your child at this app, it is now called TiKTok. Now your child has been exposed to 200 million more profiles because the company was bought out by this other company,” Caver explained.

With Snapchat, he says teens have figured out a way to take screen shots of sexy photos sent to them without the sender ever knowing. s

"Teenagers have learned that so they'll take one cell phone, take a second cell phone and take a picture of the first cell phone so you never know that a picture's been taken. It doesn't notify you that a second cell phone was used," Caver said.

In his "Birds & Bees & The Law" class, he goes around and talks to different groups about all of it.

If any person under the age of 17 takes an illicit photo, even if it's a photo of their own body, it's a Class A felony- the highest in Alabama- called Production of Child Pornography.

If you're 16 or older and you're charged with a Class A felony, you cannot be tried in juvenile court. The law says you shall be tried as an adult. If convicted, they'll have to register as a sex offender.

Every picture can be a new charge.

Any person who has an illicit photo of someone under the age of 17 on a device can be charged with possession of child porn, which is a felony, even if you didn't take it.

If you show anyone else, according to the law, it can add additional charges.

Caver's class is designed to provide the basic information about Alabama laws involving teen sexual behaviors.

"It's happening every day. Pictures are being taken every day. I think teenagers know they're not supposed to do it, but I don't think they know the legal consequences behind it. I don't think they see it as a crime. They don't understand what could happen to them," Caver stated.

"I don't think parents know what their kids are doing on their cell phones. I think a lot of parents try to keep up. It's going to take the parents taking the child's cell phone and looking at it. Hit the button on the app, see what it does," Caver added.

He says it's also important for parents to research sexual meaning for different emojis so that they know what their kids are really talking about in messages.

It's all about protecting teens and staying educated in the ever evolving world of social media.

"You have to go through your child's cell phone. You have to know what's on it. We all like to think we can trust our kids but they're teenagers. Be the parent. You're not the best friend. Take the phone and look at it," Caver added.

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