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The Balanced Voice Podcast with Rania Mankarious Kicks Off Season 2

Today, Crime Stoppers of Houston kicked off season 2 of it’s podcast, The Balanced Voice Podcast. This is a podcast for those who desire to have balanced conversations that offer real solutions to today’s most pressing issues. Join the conversation every Wednesday at 10am.

This week on Episode 15, we welcome Crime Stoppers of Houston’s very own Director of Victim Services and Victim Advocacy, Andy Kahan, to discuss the shocking trend of the repeat release of violent offenders on bond. In their conversation, Rania, Andy and expert contributor, Jennifer Hohman, break down how this disturbing trend correlates to rising crime rates and affects human trafficking victims.

Watch below or listen on your favorite podcast platform such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and iHeart!



Hosted by Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious @theraniareport
Powered by Crime Stoppers of Houston
Produced by Real News Public Relations, Sydney Zuiker, Elizabeth McChesney and Tania Cruz

Crime Stoppers Fights for Legislative Improvements to Enhance Victims’ Rights and Public Safety

Crime Stoppers of Houston remains committed to fighting for legislative improvement to enhance victims’ rights and public safety.

The Texas 87th Legislative Session kicks off at the Capitol in Austin today. The following legislative items are on our agenda to support this session:

  • HB 670: This bill will enhance penalties for those who engage in what is known as ‘Celebratory Gunfire’. Reckless discharge of a firearm that causes serious bodily injury and or death may be punishable as a second-degree felony. In 2020, Harris County had several people injured and a nurse was killed as a result of ‘Celebratory Gunfire’.
  • Felony Bond Reform Bills are expected to be filed by Houston area Senators Paul Bettencourt and John Whitmire to address the ramifications of felony bond reform. This is an issue Crime Stoppers has been at the forefront and has led the charge to seek significant changes to enhance public safety when it comes to felony bond reform.
  • Allowing the Parole Board discretion when it comes to reviewing offenders for parole convicted of Assault with the Intent to Impede Breathing. Current statutes mandate yearly parole reviews for the above offenders. Legislation will be filed to allow the parole board the same discretion it has for other offenders convicted of violent crimes not to review for parole upon denial anywhere from 1-5 years.


Our team is also working closely with our human trafficking partners at Children at Risk, Houston 20 and others, to inform you about House/Senate Bills that have been filed surrounding human trafficking. We will share that information soon.

We welcome your support on these important legislative issues.

FREE Online Safety Webinars – Crime Stoppers Announces Spring 2021 Calendar

We are thrilled to share that our FREE Virtual Safety Presentations will continue through Spring 2021! Join us Mondays at 10am for our Safety Actions. Valuable Education (SAVE) Webinars and Tuesdays at 11am for our Safe Community presentations.

Webinar Topics include: 

  • Human Trafficking Awareness
  • Situational Awareness
  • Bullying Prevention
  • Recognizing Abuse
  • Teen Dating Safety and Laws
  • Animal Cruelty Awareness
  • Active Shooter Training presented by JetBlue
  • The Importance of Anonymous Reporting
  • Financial Crimes Awareness
  • Muderabilia

How it works:

  • Browse our presentation offerings in the booklet below.
  • To register, click on the link in the presentation description. This link will bring you to a ZOOM registration page. Once you fill out the form, you will receive a confirmation email with the presentation link and login. If you do not see an email come through, make sure to check your junk mail!
  • On the day of the presentation, find your registration link, click to launch ZOOM, sign in and join the conversation!
  • If you have any questions, please reach out to Mimi Zarenchansky at mzarenchansky@crime-stoppers.org

Visit our Events page to view all spring 2021 programs and events!

Click to Download our Online Safety Webinar – Spring 2021 Calendar as a PDF


These presentations are made possible by our generous sponsors! 

Safety Actions. Valuable Education (SAVE) Webinars are made possible by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

Safe School and Community presentations are made possible by:

  • Texas Office of the Governor
  • The Hamill Foundation
  • Harris County Commissioners Court – Commissioner R. Jack Cagle
  • The Longenbaugh Fund
  • Houston PetSet
  • Lawrence and Linda Levy

Cyber Safety Overview

This year, 2020, is quite different for so many reasons; notably, Covid 19. Covid-19 has moved people indoors, requiring us to perform work and school from home for most of the calendar year. Some businesses have managed to thrive during 2020, including the mobile phone and PC business. Yes, the PC (personal computer) is popular again, and PC usage continues to increase. This is good news for companies that make PC’s, PC hardware, software and peripherals.

“Customers are using Windows PCs to stay productive, connect and learn in this time. In fact, over 4 trillion minutes are being spent on Windows 10 a month, a 75% increase year on year,” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer, wrote in a blog post on Monday. Windows had nearly 87% share of the PC operating system market in April, according to NetMarketShare, and in March, Microsoft said it had reached 1 billion active Windows 10 devices.

Cell phone usage is also on the rise. User’s are spending more time logging into their social media and are spending longer on social media with each use. Internet technology has impacted our lives since its inception. Each device provides another opportunity for exposure to harmful cyber activities.

We know the cyber world has more visitors now, but how many of these visitors practice cyber safety? Cyber safety is needed for a safe and secure lifestyle. Cyber safety protects you from persons interested in stealing your confidential information, tracking your physical location, learning personal information about you for harmful purposes, initiating contact with minors, and various other purposes equally improper. Since dependency on the internet is growing, the importance of cyber safety is also growing.
New advancements in technology are often accompanied by dangers and threats associated with its use, including the internet. Since the internet is accessed by children as well, it is crucial to educate children as well about the safety and security aspects of it. Using the internet safely and securely without leaking private information, and to establish safe protocols for accessing certain websites and cell phone applications is a skill. Especially kids, teenagers, and less computer and internet literate people are victimized on the Internet. Here are some cyber statistics you may not be aware of:

  • 10 – 14 is the average age of online victimization
  • YouTube is 2nd most-used search engine following Google
  • As of May 2019, 500 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube every minute
  • 16% of the child pornographic images are self-produced, 40% are produced by threats or coercion
  • 20% of Tinder users are between 12-19-year old children
  • Social networking sites are virtual communities
  • Kids convene on these sites to chat, IM, post pictures, and blog (journal)
  • They appeal to teens because they provide instant community, instant celebrity, and encompass many online tools and entertainment activities
  • 40 percent of kids in grades 4-8 reported they connected or chatted online with a stranger. Of those 40 percent:
    – 53 percent revealed their phone number to a stranger
    – 21 percent spoke by phone with a stranger
    – 15 percent tried to meet with a stranger
    – 11 percent met a stranger in their own home, the stranger’s home, a park, mall or restaurant
    – 30 percent texted a stranger from their phone
    – 6 percent revealed their home address to a stranger (Children’s Internet Usage Study, Center for Cyber Safety and Education, March 2019).
  • Technologies designed to prevent access to pornography or other online content perceived as harmful and;are presented as possible protective measures, and on average, a quarter of European families report using them. (July 2018: Internet Filtering and Adolescent Exposure to Online Sexual Material)
  • 72 percent of Americans believe their accounts are secure with only usernames and passwords, yet every two seconds there is another victim of identity fraud. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to keep your accounts secure. (Stop. Think. Connect .(n.d.) “Lock Down Your Login”, accessed 1-16-2017 from https://www.lockdownyourlogin.com).
  • When it comes to online enticement, girls make up the majority (78%) of child victims—while the majority (82%) of online predators are male. And 98% of online predators have never met their child targets in real life. (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, “The Online Enticement of Children: An In-Depth Analysis of CyberTipline Reports”
  • 50 percent of American adults are worried about the amount of personal information about them online, while 47 percent said they were not confident they understood what would be done with their data once it was collected (National Cyber Security Alliance, January 12, 2017).
  • 39% of parents report using parental controls for blocking, filtering or monitoring their teen’s online activities (Pew Research Center, January 2016).
  • Internet safety was the 4th most commonly identified “big problem”, up from #8 in 2014. Sexting received the biggest change in rating this year, from #13 in 2014 to #6 in 2015 (http://mottnpch.org/reports-surveys/top-10-child-health-problems-more-concern-sexting-internet-safety)
  • Just 28% of parents have installed software on computers to prohibit certain website visitation; only 17% have such software on mobile devices, and just 15% on gaming consoles (Cox Communications 2012).
  • One in two parents do not use any blocking or filtering software on their children’s Internet enabled devices. (FamilyPC Survey, August, 2001)
  • Nine in 10 teens say their parents have talked to them about online safety.
  • However, nearly half (49%) of teens claim their parents do nothing to monitor their devices. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company.
  • Nearly half of teens admit to taking action to hide their online behavior from parents. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company.
  • 46% of teens have cleared their search history and/or cookies on their browser. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company.
  • 1 in 5 teens have used a private browsing feature so their parents can’t see the sites they’ve visited. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company.
  • 14% of teens report friends have invited someone over that they had only met online. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company.
  • On average, teens spend 5 hours and 38 minutes online every day. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company.
  • 18% of teens have considered meeting with someone in person whom they first met online.
  • Of these, 58% have actually met up with someone in person. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company.

Internet safety for children should be a top priority. Children must be safeguarded from dangers including but not limited to obscenity, scams, malwares, identity theft, phishing, child pornography and cyberbullying. Safety has become a challenge. Acknowledging this is an issue is the first step in advancing our safety initiative. We will spend the next few weeks discussing the basics of the internet and talking about what families can do to safely navigate through the internet and social media applications. Until then, here are a few basic steps you may want to consider trying.

Stop – Before using the internet or sharing any data, take time to understand the risks involved. Learn how to tackle potential risks.
Think – Watch for warning signs before accessing anything online. Consider the safety of others and analyze the importance of sharing the information.
Connect – Always connect to authorized and safe internet connections.

Bullying Differences and Similarities

I am aware that some people have a difficult time making a distinction between traditional bullying and cyberbullying, so let us discuss these aggression types and add clarification. I confess to being born in the late 70’s. When I was in grade school, the coolest advance in technology was the Boom Box (Google it) Walkie Talkie or the portable cassette player with earphones. Pictures were taken on portable cameras, either using a polaroid camera or captured on a roll of film. Cell phones did not exist and call waiting had not been invented yet. The number of kids per class were approximately 25, there were a few hundred kids on campus and the number of bullies on campus seemed quite minimal. The school-yard bully seemed like a kid’s worst nightmare. This type of bully generally victimized others by teasing, threatening, belittling, committing acts of physical violence, vandalizing, taking personal items by force or coercion. We will call this bully, the Traditional Bully. The Traditional Bully would usually carry out these aggressions on school property, buses, bus stops or school sponsored events. The number of victims that the Traditional Bully would interact with was limited to those within a physical proximity of the Traditional Bully and his minions.

There were usually physical signs of the Traditional Bully’s activities. School administration and teachers clearly understood their powers and authority to punish an aggressor. Victims were often told to stand up to the Traditional Bully. A physical confrontation was usually a one on one encounter between victim and aggressor. When I think of this Traditional Bully, I think of Nelson from The Simpson’s cartoon. While I assure you that the Nelson’s of the world have not disappeared, now there is a second type of bully. The extremely dangerous, cyberbully. How can you distinguish the differences between the Traditional Bully and a cyberbully?
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology to harass, threaten, intimidate, humiliate, and target victims. Cyberbullying is basically the electronic version of bullying. It occurs when an individual engages in bullying through the use of any electronic communication device, including a phone, computer, camera, e-mail, instant message, text message, chat room, social media, website or other form of electronic communication. Cyberbullies can be obvious, remain anonymous, create fake profiles, and can strike at all hours of the day and night on multiple platforms. With minimal effort, they can threaten, taunt, harass and humiliate their target, causing severe emotional distress that, in some instances, bullying has even led to suicide.

Some examples of cyberbullying could include:

  • Social circle shaming victims for having low numbers of social media follow or likes.
  • Sending viscous text messages.
  • Spreading rumors or gossip by posting it to social networking sites.
  • Taking and sending embarrassing pictures or videos without permission.
  • Creating a fake profile and pretending to be the victim.
  • Sending harassing emails or instant messages.Sending messages or images that disappear after the victim receives them.

Here, there are limited to no physical signs of the cyberbullying activities, although there may be physical and psychological responses. The responses include, but are not limited to depression, anxiety, aggression, low self-esteem, lack of sleep or feeling overly exhausted, stomach aches, headaches, bedwetting, and other stress induced reactions. These are some signs parents and teachers may observe that indicate a child is the victim of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying attacks are often gang attacks, where each person who views, likes, or comments on a cyberbullies social media post can be perceived as an additional attack on the intended victim.

While we have identified some differences between bullying and cyberbullying, there are some common impacts between them. Being bullied increases cortisol levels – a stress hormone – in the body, which typically happens after a stressful event. Stress from bullying can impact the immune system and hormones. Imaging studies show that brain activity and functioning can be affected by bullying, which may help explain the behavior of children who have been bullied. Research has consistently shown that bullying can have a negative impact on how well children and adolescents do in school. It has a negative impact on both grades and standardized test scores starting as early as kindergarten and continuing through high school. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death for American teenagers and young adults. “Bullying is a risk factor for depression and thinking about suicide. Children who bully others, are bullied, or both bully and are bullied are more likely to think about or attempt suicide than those who are not involved in bullying at all.”

What I take from this information is that bullying of all types has a significant impact on the aggressors. While Traditional Bullying is an activity that is easier to identify, cyberbullying may be deadlier, in part, because of its silent methods. Bullying of all types is a problem not only for local communities, states, nations, but a global problem. Hopefully being able to identify and help the victims will reduce the incidents of aggressors.