Monica Pinedo, West Coast Director of the Safe Surfin’ Foundation, was invited to speak at the Young Latina Empowerment conference in Cerritos, California, March 24th. Monica presented a workshop that focused on emotional health and it’s connection to social media and human trafficking. This event was sponsored by the ABC Unified School District. Monica was also happy to welcome 8 young women who expressed an interest in volunteering to help with other Safe Surfin’ events in California.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A mother on a mission is teaming up with lawmakers more than a decade after her daughter vanished.
Bethany Markowski was last seen in early March 2001, and the day of her disappearance may soon be recognized across the state as a day of awareness for countless families still searching.
According to her mother, Bethany was a kind, smart, sassy 11-year-old.
“Loved to sing, didn’t want you to watch her, so you had to turn your back while she would sing into a brush and dance,” explained Jonnie Carter. “She’s got a really good heart, really kind heart.”
Bethany reportedly visited a mall in Jackson, Tennessee, with her father 16 years ago.
“She was on second visitation with her father,” said Carter. “He had taken a nap out in the parking lot… He let Bethany go into the mall, and she’s gone.”
Bethany hasn’t been seen since.
Unconfirmed “sightings” have poured in through the years, 16 years of leads that led to nowhere, leading to questions from Jonnie.
“Bethany is not 11 anymore. What if she doesn’t like me?” asked Jonnie. “What if she doesn’t love me? What if she blames me for not finding her?”
It’s a case that’s haunted Jackson police as well.
“It’s very close to me. Bethany and my daughter would be the same age,” said Captain Mike Holt to WBBJ-TV back in 2014. “Always want to believe that we’re gonna find her alive.”
This case has now inspired lawmakers with close friend Rep. Darren Jernigan filing legislation this session to honor Bethany and all missing people.
“I can’t find her child, but I can help bring awareness to it,” noted Jernigan.
Awareness would come through a new bill marking Bethany’s disappearance date, March 4th, as Tennessee Missing Children’s Day.
“With nearly 70 children missing in Tennessee, it’s an opportunity to pick a day,” said Jernigan. “Share with these families that we care about what they’re doing.”
“I cried for three days when he told me that. I cry every time I think about it,” added Jonnie.
Now, as the bill makes its way to the floor, Jonnie hopes this March 4th will be for her and other Tennessee families who refuse to give up.
“It’s beyond anything I could ever imagine,” said Jonnie. “I know Bethany would be proud of this.”
Anyone with information in Bethany’s disappearance is urged to contact TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
Original Article Link: WKRN.com
In the effort to expand continued Internet safety education to as many young people as possible, the Safe Surfin’ Foundation,(SSF) under the guidance of Chairman, Sheriff Mike Brown, announces the implementation of the Cyber S.W.A.T. Team; Safety While Accessing Technology.
This program utilizes the training of high school students in the delivery of age-appropriate Internet safety lessons, and then the senior students take these safety messages to the middle and elementary grades.
The first Cyber S.W.A.T. Team is already in full-swing at Jefferson Forest High School where they are currently promoting their Cyber Safety Week, raising awareness of Online safety and how to best avoid falling victim to online sexual predators, to hundreds of students at their school.
The second Cyber S.W.A.T. pilot program is slated for the Los Angeles School district beginning the first of the year. This program will be made available in Spanish to benefit the youth of Hispanic communities.
Thursday is the official ‘kick off’ of Cyber S.W.A.T. at JFHS, with lots of surprises and fun-while-learning events for students and faculty.
The media is invited to attend the announcement on
Thursday, December 8th, 8:30 am
Jefferson Forest High School Library
to learn about the Cyber S.W.A.T. program and the plans to roll this out as a nation-wide project.
More detailed information on this innovative program will be available at the media event.
Contact: Robin Sundquist
Deputy Director – SSF
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the busiest shopping days of the year. This is a great opportunity to increase Safe Surfin’ Foundation’s AmazonSmile donations by reminding your supporters to shop at smile.amazon.com.
Use the message and image below in email, social media, and on your website to spread the word to your donors, staff, and volunteers.
Support us when you shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #StartWithaSmile at smile.amazon.com/ch/54-1987271 and Amazon donates to Safe Surfin’ Foundation.
Ronald Edgar Porter 81 of Blountville, passed away unexpectedly on Monday, November 14, 2016.
Ron was an undergraduate at Bucknell University in the ROTC program and then served in the US Army honorably leaving its service as a Major. He earned his Master’s Degree from UT Knoxville. Prior to his passing he was involved with the Safe Surfin’ Foundation as Director of Research, and as a consultant and researcher. He was also a member of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Survivors include his loving wife of 53 years, Dorothy “Dot” Porter of the home; his son, Lloyd E. A. Porter and wife, Jerosha; daughter, Serena Katherine Porter and a sister, Victoria K. Porter.
Calling hours will be held on Thursday, November 17, 2016 from 5 – 7 pm at Carter-Trent Funeral Home, downtown Kingsport.
A funeral service will be conducted on Thursday, November 17, 2016 at 7 pm in the funeral home with Pastor David Salley, officiating.
Military graveside services will be held at 11:30 am on Friday, November 18, 2016 at Mountain Home National Cemetery, Mountain Home, Tennessee with the American Legion Post #3 & #265. Those attending are asked to meet at the funeral home at 10:30 am.
Carter-Trent Funeral Home, downtown Kingsport is serving the Porter family.
Federal officials and advocates say online sex-related extortion against children is growing, and they are urging educators and parents to help raise awareness at back-to-school events.
They say they see a rise in “sextortion,” which often involves adults posing as someone younger on social media to get minors to send them inappropriate photos or video. Offenders typically threaten to post the images they obtain — or send them to others — unless they are sent more explicit images.
“It’s not uncommon,” said Michelle DeLaune, chief operating officer at the nonprofit National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, based in Alexandria. “It’s something that we see every day, and it’s something that’s concerning because it can inflict a tremendous amount of damage on a child.”
DeLaune’s organization and the Justice Department recently released a public service announcement showing a teenage girl blackmailed into providing explicit images by an older offender who pretends to be someone she knows.
FBI officials say offenders often approach children and teenagers — typically ages 10 to 17 — on social-networking sites but then persuade them to move to anonymous messaging apps or video chats.
“They look to transition them to a more secluded form of communication,” said Ray Duncan, assistant special agent in charge in the criminal division of the FBI’s Washington field office.
Increasing reports of sextortion led the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to conduct a recent study of 800 sextortion cases, finding that 78 percent of the victims were girls, with an average age of 15, DeLaune said.
In 6 percent of cases examined, the offender threatened to distribute the images if the child did not meet them in person.
“The threat and the impact of these situations is significant,” DeLaune said. “The children find themselves in situations they don’t know how to get out of.”
FBI officials say there is no reliable data reflecting the full extent of the phenomenon, but they have seen an increase of sextortion against children in recent years and are working with state and local authorities to improve awareness. The crime is underreported, they say, because many victims are too embarrassed to come forward or fear being charged with child pornography.
An FBI report this year that included a survey of law enforcement officials and others involved in child exploitation cases found sextortion was “by far the most significantly growing threat to children, with more than 60 percent of survey respondents indicating this type of online enticement of minors was increasing.”
Duncan noted that a 2015 analysis of 43 sextortion cases with child victims found suicides or attempted suicides in at least 28 percent of the cases examined. “It can exact a pretty large psychological toll on the kids,” he said.
Sextortion is part of a broader problem of online sexual exploitation. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children says that in the past 18 years, its CyberTipline, a national hotline, has fielded more than 90,000 reports of alleged instances in which an individual has attempted to groom or lure a child for sexual purposes during online communication.
In Maryland, a recent case pointed to potential dangers for teenagers who meet adults through social media. A 14-year-old girl met a man she knew as “Jay” through social media and agreed to meet him after a week of communicating, according to court documents.
On Aug. 20, the man allegedly picked her up near her home in Anne Arundel County and drove her to his home, 45 minutes away in Montgomery County, court documents say. The man, Onaje Robinson, 42, allegedly turned on a Netflix movie and had sexual intercourse with her, according to the court filings.
The girl described the sex as non-consensual and said Robinson used a stick to hit her during the encounter, the documents say. Robinson, an assistant girls’ track coach at Seneca Valley High School, faces sex offense and assault charges. He told authorities the sex was consensual and that he thought she was 20, court records state.
Robinson turned himself in last week, and was released on a $10,000 bond, court records state. He could not be reached for comment.
Federal officials listed tips they said could help prevent sextortion:
●Making children aware that anything they share online may be viewed and used by others.
●Ensuring children’s apps and social-networking sites’ privacy settings are set to the strictest level possible.
●Reviewing all apps downloaded to smartphones and mobile devices and monitoring activity on those devices.
●Reviewing “friends” and “followers” lists to delete those a child has not met in person.
●Ensuring that anyone who asks a child to engage in sexually explicit activity online is reported to a parent, guardian or law enforcement official promptly.
DeLaune added another bit of advice: “We encourage adults to create an environment where a child would feel comfortable coming to them if they find themselves in a situation where they feel uncomfortable or afraid.”
Safe Surfin’ West Coast Director, Monica Pinedo, presented an Internet safety presentation to the St. Genevieve High School, in Panorama City, CA. Over 900 parents and students attended. Monica recently joined the SSF Team and is already making huge strides on the West Coast, raising awareness on the dangers lurking online, as well as, providing educational information and materials for all ages!