Montana Department of Justice
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Surfing the Internet

The Internet gives us access to a vast amount of information. Whether it’s to do research for homework, play games, watch videos or communicate with friends, almost anything can be found on the Web.

There is also false, illegal, racist, sexist, hateful and demeaning content in cyberspace. Just because information is on the Internet, doesn’t mean it is true, accurate or legal.

  • If you see content that makes you feel uncomfortable, hurt, confused or scared, tell your parents or a trusted adult. Avoid such sites in the future.
  • Have your parents or a teacher show you how to use search engines like Google or Windows Live effectively to find the information you want.

Using Email

[quote style=”2″ author=””]Attachments to emails may contain viruses. Don’t open email attachments you did not ask for or that are from someone you don’t know or trust.[/quote]

Email allows you to communicate with anyone from around the world in a matter of minutes. You can attach documents, pictures or videos to your messages.

Anyone who uses email will likely get unwanted email, or spam. Spam usually directs you to a certain website and, most often, wants you to buy something. Spam senders often pretend to be someone you trust, like a friend, your bank or a government agency.

Attachments to emails may contain viruses. Once you open the attachment, the virus infects your computer and may alter the way your computer works.

  • Keep your password private.
  • Don’t share your email address with anyone you don’t know.
  • Don’t share others’ email addresses without their permission.
  • Don’t respond to spam. If you do, spammers know you are a target.
  • Make sure your email filter settings are set high enough to deal with spam.
  • If you receive any emails that include sexual language or images, have your parents contact local law enforcement, or call the CyberTipline at 1-800-843-5678.
  • Do not open email attachments you did not ask for or that are from someone you don’t know or trust.

Instant Messaging

IM’ing is even faster than email. It lets you chat with others online in real time. Different chat rooms are available to talk about different topics. With instant messaging or email, you mostly use words or IM lingo to communicate. You can add emoticons to describe your feelings.

Without seeing and hearing you speak the words, the person reading your message may misinterpret what you say. A teasing remark may be interpreted as mean and hurtful.

In reality, people are sometimes not who they pretend to be on the Internet. They may lie about their age, gender and interests to gain your trust.

[quote style=”2″ author=””]Don’t say anything to people online that you wouldn’t say to their face.[/quote]

  • Don’t say anything to people online that you wouldn’t say to their face.
  • Don’t be a cyberbully.
  • Ask yourself, “Are the people I am chatting with really who they say they are?” How do you know?
  • Limit the lists of members/friends/contacts on these sites to people you really know in person.
  • If you receive a rude or mean message, ignore it. If you continue to receive these kind of messages, ask for help.
  • If you receive any messages that include sexual language or images, have your parents or a trusted adult contact local law enforcement or call the CyberTipline at 1-800-843-5678.


Chatrooms are useful tools for communicating with people about specific topics like a hobby or other interests.  You may want to learn how to start your own zine or how to use a specific computer application.  The possibilities are endless and communicating with other hobbyists and professionals could help you further explore your interests or launch your dreams.

[quote style=”2″ author=””]89% of sexual solicitations are made in either chat rooms or instant messages. Source: (2008)[/quote]

Private chat is safer than public chat, but you still have to be careful.  What if you only talk in chat or game rooms with friends you know in person?  When you are in a chat or game room, you have no way of knowing exactly who you are talking with and who else is in the “room” with you.  Someone can lurk in the “shadows” and wait for you or your friend to give up some personal information.  That lurker may then follow you to other public online spaces and continue to gather information about you, without your knowledge.

You do not know who you can trust online.  There is no such thing as an “online friend.”  Anyone that you meet online is still a stranger.  No matter how long you have been talking to someone online, you do not know who they really are.  Time does not equal trust!

Stay in charge.  Never give out personal information — name, address, telephone or cell number, private email address, pictures — even if someone asks for it.  Tell a trusted adult immediately if someone or something makes you feel scared, worried or uncomfortable.

Avoid chat rooms where people are talking about inappropriate subjects.  Sometimes the name of a chat room can be deceiving.  Once you get into the chat, you will know quickly if it is true to its name.  Get out immediately if anyone is talking about sex, hate or violence, or using obscene, rude or offensive language.

The best strategy is to always keep your online communication private, but remember, this does not mean you can share information freely.  Think before you chat.

Cell Phones:
Text, Video and Picture Messaging

[quote style=”2″ author=”Pew Internet and American Life Project (2009)”]Teens age 13 to 17 send an average of 2,272 text messages each month; that’s almost 77 messages per day.[/quote]

Cell phones have changed our lives, mostly for the better.  For many youth, life without a cell phone is unimaginable.  We can communicate with each other instantly, 24/7, from virtually anywhere.  We can take a picture or video and share it with multiple recipients.  We can access the Internet, watch television programs, download and listen to music, play video games, all in the palm of our hands.  And the technology is constantly changing and improving.  The possibilities seem endless.

Distracted Drivers

  • 25% of teens say they text while driving.
  • 48% have been a passenger when a driver texted while driving.
  • Teens say their parents are texting fanatics too.

    schools have policies forbidding cell phone use during class and other school functions.  Some schools don’t allow cell phones in the schools at all.  It is important to follow the school cell-phone-use policy because the ramifications could result in losing privileges to use your phone, losing the phone altogether or a change in the school policy that results in even more restrictions on cell phone use.

Cell phones can become an addiction.  Constantly texting your friends is not healthy (plus, if you don’t have an unlimited texting plan, it can be very expensive).  Repetitive motion is never healthy.  Your brain, eyes and body need a break from the strain caused by texting.  Also, people who drive, bike, skateboard, rollerblade or walk while texting risk serious injury to themselves and others.

The ease at which cell phones allow you to act impulsively can be dangerous.  For instance, you may think it is funny to take a picture of a friend in their underwear during a sleep-over and send it to another friend.  What if that friend shares it with someone else?  Once you hit “send,” you have lost control of what happens to that image.  Creating, distributing or possessing nude or semi-nude images of anyone under the age of 18, including yourself, is called child pornography.  People go to jail for having those types of images.  (Semi-nude means a girl or boy in their underwear.)

One more thing: when taking a photo of someone else, always ask for their permission before sharing the image.

Owning a cell phone is a privilege.  Follow the rules set by your parents/guardians and school when using a cell phone.

Limit your texting.  If you find that you are constantly texting all day and night, turn off your phone for one hour, every day.  Each day, increase the time that your phone is turned off.  There is no such thing as a healthy addiction.  Remember: never text while driving or walking.  Remind your parents to be good role models if they also text while driving or walking.

Never send nude or semi-nude image of yourself or others under the age of 18 to anyone, ever.  If you receive any of these types of images, report it to a trusted adult immediately.

Never respond to a bully.  Delete or ignore the message/image/video unless you continue to receive threatening, harassing or frightening messages.  Save the files as evidence, tell a trusted adult and call your local law enforcement agency.

Stop and think before using your cell phone.

Checkout for ideas on how to respond if you are the recipient of excessive text messages.

More Information

If you want to learn more about Internet safety, check out the following websites.


Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Tim Fox, and the Legal Services Division function as the lawyers for the State of Montana. The attorneys in the Office have expertise in a wide range of legal topics and handle a broad range of legal cases involving the State of Montana and its people.


Children’s Justice Bureau

The Children’s Justice Bureau is an agency-wide initiative at the Montana Department of Justice dedicated to IMPROVING how we respond to child victims, DEVELOPING state-of-the-art approaches by keeping up with the newest research and, most importantly, HELPING child victims recover and move on with their lives.


Forensic Science Division & State Crime Lab

The mission of the Montana Forensic Science Division is to use operationally efficient and financially responsible practices as the laboratory provides accurate, objective, and timely forensic analyses to the criminal justice community in order to maximize value to the citizens of Montana.


Missing Persons Clearinghouse

The Missing Children Act of 1985 established a Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse within the Department of Justice. In March 2008, the department implemented a searchable online database that, for the first time, is updated in real time and includes any photos provided by law enforcement.


Office of Victim Services

The goal of the Office of Victim Services is to provide tools and information to help crime victims recover from their experience and provide them with a range of services available. The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating for victims. To assist them as they go through the justice system, the Office of Victim Service is available to answer any questions they may have.


Central Services Division

The Montana Department of Justice’s Central Services Division provides financial and human resources support for the department. We make sure that everything works for the people Working for Justice. If you’re interested in a rewarding career helping protect the rights and safety of all Montanans, we invite you to join our team of over 800 dedicated employees working across the state.


Justice Information Technology Services Division

Our Justice Information Technology Services Division (JITSD) provides vital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure upon which Montanans and local and state law enforcement agencies rely for timely, accurate information. JITSD manages the IT systems, services, and interfaces to support nearly 800 DOJ employees, 325 statewide county motor vehicle system users, and over 3,000 Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) users across the state.


Division of Criminal Investigation

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Montana Department of Justice is involved in many aspects of Montana law enforcement and is integral to the Department of Justice’s mission of promoting public safety.


Montana Highway Patrol

Montana is rich in natural beauty and history. From Glacier Park in the west to Makoshika Park in the east, the men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol are working hard to make your travels safe and enjoyable. The Highway Patrol’s core values are “Service, Integrity and Respect.” These values are reflected in our commitment to public safety through diligent and fair enforcement of our traffic codes.


Montana Law Enforcement Academy

The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is the premier law enforcement and public safety educational and training institution for state, county, city and tribal officers throughout the state. The Academy offers entry-level programs referred to as Basic Programs and advanced training through an array of Professional Development Programs.


Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.


Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.


Natural Resource Damage Program

The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.


Office of Consumer Protection

Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the consumer from unfair or deceptive business practices. Enforce statutes relating to telephone solicitation and telemarketing. Provide information to consumers about the Consumer Protection Act. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.


Gambling Control Division

Through the Gambling Control Division, the Department of Justice regulates all forms of gambling in Montana, except for the Montana Lottery and horse racing. The legislature has charged the division with maintaining a uniform regulatory climate that is fair and free of corrupt influences. The division is also responsible for collecting gambling revenue for state and local governments.


Human Trafficking

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.


Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.


Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.


Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

Created by the Montana Department of Justice in 1989, the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is a valuable resource for Montanans to protect their families against sexual or violent offenders.


Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

Drinking and driving has been a chronic – and deadly — problem on Montana’s roadways for decades. In 2008, Montana was ranked as the deadliest state in the nation when it came to per capita DUI-related traffic fatalities.


Work for Justice

Everyday at The Montana Department of Justice, our employees are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and rights of the people of our great state. We’re passionate about what we do because it’s more than a job or a career. It’s about who we are as people. If this sounds like you, your unique experiences, knowledge, and values may be just what the Montana Department of Justice is looking for and needs. In return we can offer a culture that promotes fairness and growth opportunities.