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Holler Warns Against Predators

October 4, 2017
BY LAUREN MATTHEWS - Editor (lmatthews@wetzelchronicle.com) , Wetzel Chronicle

The community is perhaps a bit more aware about the dangers of sexual predators, thanks to the skills of Retired Police Chief Jim Holler. Holler gave various presentations Monday, Sept. 25 to youth and adults in Wetzel County. Holler continued his crusade Tuesday in Tyler County, speaking to Tyler Consolidated students

Holler's appearance was thanks to the Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center, located in Paden City.

The retired chief began his rounds Monday morning at Magnolia High School, where he spoke to students from MHS and Paden City High School. Holler told students how there is an "unbelievable amount of people out there preying on you."

Article Photos

Photo by Lauren Matthews
Retired Police Chief Jim Holler stands beside members of the Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center’s board, along with the center’s Executive Director, Susan Scharf.

"There are a lot of bad things out there," he said.

Holler knows his topic well. He is the former Chief of Police for Liberty Township Police Department, in Adams County, Pa. He served in that position for 16 years, and he was also Fire Marshal for eight of those years.

In 2005, Holler became an Internet Crimes Against Children Investigator, starting the first task force in Adams County. In this position, Holler conducted pro-active Internet investigations, making multiple arrests for possession of child pornography and undercover chat related arrests for soliciting sex from a minor.

On his hollertraining.com website, Holler has written that "over 30 years of law enforcement/public service experience has allowed me to see firsthand the failures and successes of child abuse investigations and the degree to which the well being of a child victim depends on the actions adults and professionals are willing to take."

Holler has local ties as well. He was the founder and board president of the Adams County Children's Advocacy Center in Gettysburg, Pa., and he is past board president of the local child advocacy center. He also served as a board chair of the Adams County Domestic Violence Shelter in Gettysburg, Pa.

On Monday, Holler's focus was prevention: prevention of future victims of sex crimes. Holler warned students that they never know who they are conversing with online. Holler spoke of his experiences of going undercover in chat rooms. In chat rooms, Holler played the part of a "typical shy 13-year-old girl." Within moments, Holler was speaking with sexual predators.

Holler recollected a specific predator, who Holler and his team ended up arresting. The middle-aged man spoke inappropriately to Holler. He made promises to Holler, grooming - what the predator though - was a 13-year-old girl. The predator promised shopping trips.

Holler's trainings are not without squeamish moments. He noted that "sexual predators are skilled in what they do," knowing too much about a 13-year-old's body.

Yet, being candid is perhaps required, as the statistics are alarming. One out of every four girls is a victim of sexual abuse. One out of every six boys is a victim of sexual abuse. Holler commented the figure, regarding boys, is probably inaccurate. The reality is most likely one out of every three, or four, boys is a victim of abuse. Girls confide in friends, whereas boys keep to themselves, for fear of retribution or blackmail.

Holler encouraged students to talk to teachers, guidance counselors, if they are being abused, or suspect abuse in a friend.

In the meantime, students need to be proactive.

"Whatever you post online, it isn't safe," Holler warned. "I can go to any of your Facebook accounts and steal any of your photos." Despite social media sites possessing privacy policies, "everything you post is public and permanent," said Holler.

Besides many of us scanning, or not even reading, privacy policies, many Apps on our phone are not secure and are perhaps connected with third-party software that works behind the scenes, stealing our private information. More concerning is the fact that predators can use this third-party software to transfer information to their devices.

Holler shared several real-life instances of children and teenagers who have communicated online with individuals, who they thought they knew. These instances had gruesome endings. Someone who seems the same age, who seems friendly and attractive, turns out to be a middle-aged man, who viciously assaults and kills his victim. Or, Holler shares the story of a man and woman, who pretend to be a teenage boy. The duo preys on a young girl, meeting her in person and then murdering her.

Holler said just this month, 26 kids have been listed as missing throughout the United States. A total of 171 kids have gone missing since January. In Holler's opinion, most of these kids have probably been caught up in risky online behavior.

Cyberbulling has also increased with the rise in social media.

"The sad thing is that you cannot get away from this," Holler said.

The use of social media, to bully, means that rumors can spread quickly.

Holler gives instances, throughout the United States, of youth who were bullied to the point where they killed themselves.

"Their mistake is not going to someone," Holler said, encouraging kids to confide in teachers, or parents, if they find themselves being bullied.

Another mistake is "sexting." Holler said, chances are, a photo sent to a significant other will be forwarded to others. He noted that "99.9 percent of boys will send the photo to their friends, and vice versa."

"This is child pornography. This is a felony," Holler sternly warned.

The retired chief said that the individual who takes the photo is guilty of producing pornography. Forwarding the photo to someone is distribution, another charge.

Those who keep the photo are guilty of possession.

This production of pornography has led to "sextortion."

"Anything you show online could be used against you," Holler said.

"If someone demands images from you, stop talking to them immediately, and report it.

Unfortunately, kids' risky online behaviors are costing them. Not only are they prey to predators, but inappropriate Facebook posts, Tweets, and more are costing students college opportunities.

"Actions will stick with you," Holler warned, further repeating that nothing is private online.

If a student is being bullied, urged to share inappropriate images? Holler said, "Do not give into the pressure. Tell a trusted adult. If it is school related, tell the school."

Implement the ability to "Block" the person, via the app that is being used. Also, never open, read, or respond to messages from unsavory characters. Those being threatened online are urged to take Screenshots of the messages and contact the police.

"Don't give personal information. Don't exchange pictures, and don't send messages when angry. Delete messages from people you don't know."

"Be aware if something doesn't seem right."

Most of all? "Combatting bullies and predators take teamwork," Holler said.

"Be smart out there."

Notably, Holler also complimented the students of Magnolia and Paden City high schools. He praised the students for their attentiveness, comparing them to previous assemblies he has proceeded over.

The school assemblies, in Wetzel and Tyler counties, were made possible by a grant The Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center received from the Community Impact Grant of the Community Foundation of the Ohio Valley. The CFOV can be accessed at cfov.org

Holler reached more than 1200 students in two days.

Predators In The Church

Monday evening, Holler continued his endeavor against sexual predators. An "adults only" presentation was given at New Martinsville First Church of God.

With the "Safe Haven" training, all 70 churches in Wetzel and Tyler Counties were invited, and the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce provided refreshments for the event.

Holler warned his audience that they were about to witness the "R-Rated" version of his presentation, noting that he would "tell the realities," of predators in the church and community. He noted that sexual abuse is "happening in our communities."

As for sexual predators in the church, Holler noted that "every denomination has child sexual predators."

However, Holler's presentation - though at a church - wasn't just only about sexual predators in the church. Holler wanted to emphasize how sexual predators can be anywhere, even in church. He strived to raise awareness of predators throughout the community, and how a child could be experiencing the unimaginable, without adults realizing it.

Holler gave the gruesome recount of a woman who fell victim to sex trafficking at the mere age of eight. The then-child was spotted by a predator who lived nearby. The eight-year-old girl was the daughter of a single mother, who did not realize what was happening to her child. Holler said the woman is now in her 40s, still undergoing surgeries to repair damages sustained from brutal and repeated sexual assaults.

There are measures parents can take, to help ensure that their children do not end up in such a situation. Perhaps heavily debated is the issue of cell phone usage.

"If you are allowing your child to go to bed with a cellphone, you are allowing sexual predators in their room," Holler proclaimed. Holler encourages a cellphone "bed time." When a child goes to bed, his/her parents confiscate the cell phone. Furthermore, Holler encourages parents searching through their children's phones.

Holler urged parents to not let their guards down, to not "turn the radar down on people we know." He gave the alarming statistic that only 10 percent of sexual abusers are a stranger to their victim.

Holler said children need to know that no one should be touching them inappropriately, or taking inappropriate photos of them.

The former police chief warned against "authority rapists," predators who have impeccable resumes, known as "family" men or women, decorated heroes, "good Christians." He shared instances of scout leaders, preachers, doctors, and other distinguished persons who were discovered to be predators.

Holler also took an hour of his Monday evening presentation to talk to his audience about security in their churches.

He gave tips to survive an active shooter situation - such as running, and then hiding, if unable to run.

Holler said, during an active shooter situation, persons trapped in the building should use what they have as weapons against the shooter.

In the meantime, parishioners should be proactive: develop a surveillance plan to observe danger and potential threats, consider surveillance cameras to deter dangerous behaviors, and be aware of "gut" feelings. Parishioners should consider access control, consider who can get in and out of the church during services, and consider an emergency action plan.

For more information on Jim Holler, and to receive tips on protecting your children from predators, check out hollertraining.com

Holler Training is also accessible on Facebook, under "Holler Training"

 
 
 

 

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