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Parents Weigh Consequences of Providing Kids With Cell Phones

Posted May 16, 2007

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— Most teens are pushing their parents to provide them with cell phones. However, two separate Cumberland County cases may cause parents to be extra vigilant over their children's use of the phones.

A 15-year-old boy was charged Tuesday with 10 counts each of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of secretly peeping.

Sheriff's deputies said the teen had 10 sexually explicit photos on his cell phone and had been showing them to others. Investigators said the teenager even took a lewd snapshot at Gray's Creek High School, where he is a student. A school resource officer was alerted about the photos, and Cumberland authorities arrested the teen at his home.

Parents and students said they were surprised to hear how cell phones are being used by some teenagers.

"I never thought a child or a high school student would do something like that," said parent Jeff Wood.

"(A cell phone) to be used like that is not how it was intended," said student Chris Godfrey.

Authorities are warning parents to be aware of what their children are doing with their cell phones and how easy it is for them to get into trouble.

"Juveniles are taking pictures of one another and a lot of times, it's sexually explicit photos of each other – or a young lady might take a picture of herself or a young man might take a picture of himself and send it to their boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other thinking that's just an innocent thing to do," said Lt. Lynnette Hodges, of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

Michelle Goodwin's son has a cell phone, but she refused to buy him a camera phone.

"I remember kids passing around dirty notes and pictures and now, they actually get the real thing," she said.

Authorities said the problem of kids abusing cell-phone cameras is getting worse. According to investigators, a middle school student in Cumberland County was arrested with the last 45 days for having sexually explicit photographs on his phone. Investigators would not reveal where that student went to school.

"They have produced child pornography because they have taken a photographic image of someone who is under the age of 18," Hodges said.

Investigators said the charges are so serious that, if found guilty, the teenagers could potentially have to register as sex offenders.


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  • IfByWhiskey-a-go-go May 18, 2007

    Spiderneb-an alternative would be to introduce yourself to a few neighbors at that stop, and ask if your kids can stay there safe if there is any delay in picking them up. I would be willing to bet you would get no objection at all. That's what used to be done in our society, people and neighbors worked together to solve little problems like that. Today we buy a gadget, and the sense of community is pretty much gone. Your late wife could have called ahead, and asked someone to watch them a for a bit. Who knows, you might make some good friends doing something like that. Now you are free to spend $30 a month if you want, sure, but point is, you could save it, and do a little to foster a sense of community that our society sorely needs. Just sayin'....

  • 2late May 18, 2007

    RE:"Both of my teenaged boys have cell phones with cameras. If they call me for permission to stay out later than curfew i make them snap a picture to prove where they are. Once the photo is sent, it is also time stamped. It aids me in being a nosey parent.".....WOW, that's pretty darn smart....i'm gonna use that one day..seriously

  • maestro1819 May 17, 2007

    I work for a school system and I can tell you first hand that the use of cell phones has taken over our school. To reprimand a student for having one out is one battle but using it is an outright reason to go to war. I think the lack of students being responsible and the parents supporting what these kids do plays a huge part in it. I for one am leaving the school system for the mere reason the parents are so supportive of these spoiled children.

  • goat1of2 May 17, 2007

    Ah well, I guess this dates me, but my mum always made me carry a dime (a dime!) in case I needed to make a phone call. Of course, it was safe for a seven-year-old to walk the streets to find a pay phone and pay phones were plentiful. Not like now.

  • mulvay8888 May 17, 2007

    "What did we do before cell phones? Parents that justify their children’s cell phones are just taking the easy way out."..... That is a two part question. What did we do before cell phones, well, we had a community that helped when the parents were not around to see what their children were doing. As far as justifying why a child should/should not have a cell phone, well, when child molesters stop molesting and kidnapping children, there will be no justification for a cell phone. Sorry, times have changed and the world we live in now is not the world we used to live in.

  • Panther May 17, 2007

    What did we do before cell phones? Parents that justify their children’s cell phones are just taking the easy way out. Children have no business with a cell phone at school; text messaging is used for cheating in tests, or communicating with others when they should be paying attention to the teacher. Parents need to set guidelines and be parents again, not their kid’s best friend or buddy!

  • ladybug23 May 17, 2007

    You can have kids, IF you decide to be their parent NOT their best friend. Kids do not need every new invention on the market If I had a teenager today, they would have a cell phone. The would have the kind that you can call four numbers--mine, their dad and a grandparent/aunt-uncle, etc. They do not need to text all day at school, or be on the phone...they need it for emergencies only!! They don't need ipods at school---they are waaay tooooo spoiled!! Take charge, be the parent and set guidelines. My mother always told me, THE MORE YOU EXPECT, THE MORE YOU GET---THE LESS YOU EXPECT, THE LESS YOU GET. So please start setting goals you expect your children to attain and stick to it. Be the parent, not the best friend.

  • All child molesters should die May 16, 2007

    Just don't have any kids, and you don't have to worry about it!


  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr May 16, 2007

    Shift, I agree. And if they applied this to adults I would be in big trouble. I thought that's what camera phones were made for. ;-)

  • Professor Studley May 16, 2007

    I agree, peeping is a crime, but intimate photos between concenting, however young adults? ... pick you battles.