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Sheriff confirms ‘sexting’ investigation

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

 

Pulaski County Sheriff Jim Davis confirmed Friday the seizure of some school students’ cell phones as part of an investigation into a practice often referred to as “sexting.”

“The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office is working closely with Pulaski County school officials in the recently discovered distribution of inappropriate messages and photos at local schools,” he said in a press release.

Although distributing such materials can result in felony charges, Davis said no criminal charges have been filed “at this time.” The investigation is continuing.

Sheriff’s office personnel and school administrators have seized the cell phones of “a number” of students, according to the sheriff.

“The dangers of using social media to trade or send inappropriate messages or photographs among teens are great and have many potential long term damaging and illegal results,” said Davis. “Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office and the Pulaski County School Board are working closely on educating teens and their parents about the dangers of ‘sexting’ and its potential consequences.”

He said no additional information on the investigation will be provided by the sheriff’s department “due to the circumstances and the age of the participants.”

According to the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, sexting is defined as “youth writing sexually explicit messages, taking sexually explicit photos of themselves or others in their peer group, and transmitting those photos and/or messages to their peers.”

Even though the person possessing or distributing such messages and photos may not have a criminal intent, it can be prosecuted as such, especially if a child sends a sexually explicit photo to an adult or as the result of being “coerced or enticed to do so.”

A 2009 study by Cox Communications found that about 19 percent of students admitted to sexting, with 60 percent of those students having sent the messages or photos to boyfriends or girlfriends. The study found that 11 percent of the students sent messages to someone they didn’t know and 14 percent had been caught sexting, primarily by a parent.

The Attorney General’s Office points out that producing, storing or sharing lewd or explicit pictures of minors is illegal in Virginia and can lead to criminal charges such as production, possession or distribution of child pornography. Other charges could be filed if the sexting involves bullying or harassment.

A report by VDOE Division of Technology and Career Education, entitled “Sexting: Implications for Schools,” addresses some of the consequences of sexting incidents nationwide:

•An 18-year-old boyfriend was required to register as a sex offender after electronically distributing nude photos of his girlfriend.

•An 18-year-old girl committed suicide after a nude photo she sent to her boyfriend was distributed and shared with others and posted on a website.

•A 52-year-old man contacted a 14-year-old girl and asked for more explicit photos of her after photos of her were shared on the Internet.

“What may begin as a spur of the moment decision for a teenager can spin completely out of control,” the VDOE report states. “… Once a picture is sent electronically, it is very difficult — if not impossible — to retrieve.”

The report offers links to several resources to help parents address the topic of sexting with their children, including www.commonsensemedia.org/talking-about-sexting and www.connectsafely.org/Safety-Tips/tips-to-prevent-sexting.

Comments

comments

23 Responses to Sheriff confirms ‘sexting’ investigation

  1. Unbelievable

    April 7, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Stay classy PC.

  2. inform the uninformed

    April 8, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    instead of turning a blind eye to sex, maybe the parents should get together and demand that the school provide some insight into “sexting”

    it is distributing child pornography to send a picture of a nude, under 18 person from one phone to another. that’s a serious charge! that can land you on the sex offenders list and that stays with you for the rest of your life.

    its beyond the fact that I think some of these kids have no business with a phone, but I think the parents hand them over and that is that. take the phone and look at the text messages from time to time. check out the photo cache. see what your child is into. if you don’t then something like this can be waiting on your doorstep one day.

    mine didn’t get one until high school and the only reason he got it then was so he could call me to pick him up after sports practices. you see elementary school children with I-phones. what’s wrong with these people? I guess they have more money than sense. ban them from school and that will take care of the issue. we had a lot more kids in PCHS when I was there

    and one more thing. “unbelievable” that is happening in more than Pulaski county. probably your child has them now!

    • Elizabeth

      April 8, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Not sure if the school will ban the phones because people argued it was a safety issue when the children did not have cell phones in school. The school can not be the “parent” to the students. The parents need to stop being so passive and nonchalant about giving their kids the devices without any guidance.

      • inform the uninformed

        April 9, 2014 at 11:29 am

        Elizabeth,

        I agree with what you said, but there were twice as many kids in school when I went to PCHS and when my parents needed to talk to me, they had no issue getting ahold of me. I can tell you that my phone is a distraction to me at work at times. I can’t imagine what kind of distraction it is for kids. ban them. that will take care of the issue.

    • Va Girl

      April 9, 2014 at 8:47 am

      The PARENTS should talk to their children about “sexting” and the dangers of all you speak of. Problem is not so much the phones but parents not being interested in their children in the manner they should. It’s pretty darn pitiful.

      My kids didn’t get cell phones until high school either. Actually my daughter (being 30 now) probably didn’t have one until her senior year. My son not until 9th because of band and all his activities meant calling us to get him as you mentioned.

      Heck, I have a fancy Blackberry my work gave me and I cannot even figure it out! Took me several tries just to figure out how to answer it. Amazing the grade school kids can even use those things.

      • inform the uninformed

        April 9, 2014 at 3:18 pm

        How many parents you know that even talk about sex period to their kids?
        That’s a problem in itself.
        But when their daughter comes home and says she is pregnant, they seemed shocked.
        My question to those parents are, did you arm her and him with the information they needed? How to protect themselves. Most of the time the answer to that question is no.
        The even more disturbing thing to me is that most people act like underage sex just started. Been happening since the beginning of time.
        Information is power. Lets inform them so they can make good decisions.

        • Va Girl

          April 10, 2014 at 4:48 pm

          I won’t disagree many parents don’t bother to discuss such important topics with their kids, but it’s not the teachers’ place either. If this is to be taught it needs to be like sex education. You can opt your kid out and talk to them yourself. If the school should implement classes on such things, they need to have someone from law enforcement that is trained to talk to them properly and truly knows the law. One or more depending on the size of the county could be responsible for the schools and handle the situations should they arise. Otherwise it’s possible some misinformation could be put out there. Teachers are already pretty overwhelmed with what they deal with. Having to handle sexting problems may drive a few over the edge per se if they aren’t comfortable with the subject. Who would be?

          • im with you va girl

            April 14, 2014 at 4:41 pm

            we are thinking the same things just typing it different. :)

    • Lola

      April 9, 2014 at 9:19 am

      Demand that the school provide insight? How about parents raise their own children. Your dig at Unbelievable was uncalled for and petty.

      • inform the uninformed

        April 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm

        his dig at the entire county was uncalled for and petty

  3. Jennifer

    April 10, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I do not agree with not allowing phones in schools at all. I agree they shouldn’t be out and used during class but if there is ever a terrible situation of violence and my child needed to contact me, you better believe I would want him to use his phone and call 911 and then me immediately! The stay classy PC commment, you can say that for every school district around here. I work with people that have kids in Pulaski, Radford, Montgomery, Salem and Roanoke and when this came out, I found that this has happened all around, it just didn’t get out to the media! Parents AND schools (because we all know that not all parents are involved in their child’s life)needs to get the awareness out of how wrong this is and exlpain why. I have a hard time believing the girls sending the pictures and the boys looking at them and sharing them truly realized what they were doing was legally wrong because they do not see themselves as children. I know it may sound silly to most because we know they are children and it is wrong but do they? I would hate to see any child this young end up with a felony and on a sex offender list. I had the discussion with my son about this once it was in the news from another state and I am thinking maybe he was in 9th or 10th grade so I know he would have known but before our conversation he never heard about it as being something illegal, so I know the schools are not educating the kids on it unless it just started after he graduated last year. What I hear from some other areas, the picture gets out, the girl gets upset and tells her parents, they file charges against the boy and then the charges are usually dropped once they find out that their daughter was as much in the wrong and the boys. I don’t know how this came about at PCHS but I think this is a time to educate our children and at the beginning of every school year here on out, have them sign a paper agreeing that they know this is wrong and school/legal action will be carried out.

  4. Lola

    April 10, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I respectfully disagree. What happens if the school gets involved and as you say “at the beginning of every school year here on out, have them sign a paper agreeing that they know this is wrong and school/legal action will be carried out” one child misses the discussion and does not sign, she then sexts a pic gets in trouble, sues the system for not educating her as it did the others? Who will be responsible for the red tape the school’s ownership would create? It is a parenting issue. The school should not be held accountable. If the pictures were sent from a church or the grocery store are you then holding those entities accountable? Again, this is a parenting issue.

  5. Jennifer

    April 11, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I totally agree it is a parenting issue and I myself had that conversation early in my son’s high school years but there are way too many kids out there that their parents are not involved in their child’s life at all and the children need to hear about it one way or the other. Within the first two weeks of school they should be able to get with each student to make sure this form is signed and understood completely. Where I work we have forms for employees to sign and we make sure that form is signed before they reach the end of their first week of employment. It is not that difficult to make sure you have one from each student. However, if the situation arises and they don’t have a form, then there is their opportunity to educate the child and get the form signed for the future. As sad as it may be, there are students in Pulaski County that their parents really doesn’t know if their child goes to school daily. When my son was in school and playing sports all the way through rec and then school sports you would probably be surprised at how many parents never show up at any of the events. At the rec level someone had to get the child to games and practices but many were just dropped off. For the people that feel sports should not be so important, these same parents do not show up for assemblies where their child is getting recognized either. I understand work schedules but Kindergarten through 12th grade you would think you would see these parents at least once. So I do agree with you that it is a parenting issue but only in a perfect world would that happen in 100% of the homes.

  6. Valorie

    April 11, 2014 at 11:36 am

    my boys never had cell phones in school and they survived, I had the talk with my son’s when they became old enough, they do still have regular phones at school right? Also even when I was in school which was many years ago we were taught sex Education, but the world today is different you have kids on phones during school tweeting and face-booking, with such an electronic world all parents are doing is giving their children access to a new cyber world we weren’t brought up in, and what parents would think their children would be sexting? Maybe if they would check their children’s phones they would know since the parents are paying the bill you don’t need your child’s permission , and also most can be checked online as to what kind of pictures and such are being sent and received. So instead of looking for someone else to blame or to teach your children about sex education and the dangers of sexting we parents need to step up to the plate.

    • Mark

      April 15, 2014 at 1:47 am

      Valorie I agree with you.During regular school hours I think cell phones should not be allowed.They have phones in the office if they need to call a parent or if a parent needs to call their child.Thats the way we use to do it.They are there to get an education,not to be using cell phones.I say ban cell phones during regular school hours.There is no need for them.

  7. nicole

    April 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Agree Jennifer I think this matter should be talked about at home & school. Great idea on signing a form, it could be included in the papers everyone has to complete at beginning of year / transfer students…….
    These kids in middle school have to know naked pics & sending/ sharing them is wrong! Like they know at that age they should not be having sex. (Yes I have a son that attends PMS)

  8. concerned

    April 11, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    There are alot more serious issues that need to be addressed in the schools. Get you priorities straight ! The more serious things they dont want to publish but that is the norm for these idiots in Pulaski County.

    • Va Girl

      April 13, 2014 at 8:08 am

      Concerned, you appear quite smug calling those in Pulaski Co. “idiots”. Yet I’m sure where ever you live you’re the “village idiot” there.

    • what

      April 14, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      what could be more important that a young person’s life being ruined?
      come on.
      if you are going to say it then spray it.
      what are those more pressing concerns?

      • Lola

        April 15, 2014 at 11:27 am

        If a young person’s life is ruined it is by their own doing. The government (school system) is not the fix.

  9. concerned

    April 13, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Va Girl you should know. Considering.

    • Va Girl

      April 14, 2014 at 11:37 am

      Yes, considering your rude comment I do know. Glad you agree.

  10. Concerned

    April 13, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Just wanted to let you know that there are 2 people using the concerned name.

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