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DA, educators caution students against 'sexting'

Posted April 12, 2010

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— Various studies estimate that anywhere from 4 to 20 percent of teenagers are sending sexually explicit texts or pictures of themselves from a cell phone or computer.

The practice, known as "sexting," has Alamance County District Attorney Pat Nadolski and area educators trying to reach teens before they send something that could lead to embarrassment, taunting or even criminal charges.

Cell phone text message Officials want teens to think before hitting 'send'

"They're out there doing it, but I don't think they're thinking about the repercussions," Nadolski said.

Sexting might appear to be intimate, but it can quickly go public.

"They don't think it's going to get out. So, they can text provocative things to each other and occasionally send pictures, and they think it's pretty private," said Leslie Carlucci, a junior at Millbrook High School.

Carlucci and classmate Kara Walker said they watch what they text, but they know classmates can cross the line with sexting.

"Girls just think they have to be one up on another girl," Walker said. "If a girl's wearing short shorts, they have to wear shorter to get a guy's attention."

If a couple breaks up, private messages and photos spread like wildfire among classmates, Carlucci said.

"It really makes me think about what I say and what I do. I wouldn't want that to happen to me," she said.

Last year, a 13-year-old girl in Tampa, Fla., committed suicide when nude photos of her that she had texted began to circulate.

"If a teenager is thinking about doing it – thinking about pushing the send button – we want them to think again," Nadolski said, adding that teens who send or receive sexually explicit texts also could face child pornography charges.

Millbrook High media specialist Kerri Brown Parker helps organize online safety training. Instead of banning social media like Facebook and smart phones, she said, it's better to educate students about the pitfalls of lost privacy.

"We really have to show them that they have to take a step back and be more discriminating," Parker said. "The conversation is the most important thing parents can do with their kids in terms of cell phones and the Internet."

19 Comments

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  • Myra Apr 13, 2010

    TV is so unregulated as to when explicit sex chat to sell sex pills can be presented. Massive amount of TV time SELLS sex in some manner some too explicit. 3 sexy females discussing with one guy sex and size and inappropriate content. Everywhere kids turn some mature adult business is pushing SEX at them. The NC Legislature gave them legal right to consent to have sex. NOT HAVING SEX EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS IS WORKING OUT SO WELL !!!

    THERE ARE SO MANY FILTHY EMAIL SPAM RELATED TO SEX GOING INTO KIDS' MAIL BOXES IT BOGGLES MY MIND. Former Congressman Mark Foley's IM's to kids placed in Congress care were abominable, but Foley was defended and not punished.

    IF the kids are lucky, they will get PLEA DEALS the same as adults charged with CHILD SEX OFFENSES. or like Mark Foley, get to go to alcohol rehab for his improper sexual messaging. Irony is that Mark Foley was Chairman of the Congressional Caucus to Prevent Sexual Exploitation of children.

  • shortcake53 Apr 13, 2010

    larky, be honest , how many times did you use a payphone as a child? If your in school there is the office, if you work there is a phone there, friends homes have phones. A cell phone is not a "must" for a kid.

  • kiminnc2003 Apr 13, 2010

    Great! Another job title for the average teacher. We are already a social worker, nurse, psychologist, police officer, etc... I guess we should be called pseudo parent from now on.

  • seankelly15 Apr 13, 2010

    dcatz - Who said anything about 'child endangerment'. The fact is that distributing naked pictures of children or teenagers is distributing child pornography. The law makes no exceptions if the sender is in the picture.

  • Bill of Rights Apr 13, 2010

    Whatelseisnew: Teens continue to drink and drive because adults set the example for them. When I drive past DUI checkpoints I see more adults getting hauled away in handcuffs than I do teenagers. Education is part of the solution; parents setting an example and being engaged in their childrens' lives is the bigger part of it.

  • dcatz Apr 13, 2010

    Once again, the government needs to mind its own business and stay out of people's private lives.

    Anyone that things that a 16-year old girl who takes pictures of her self is guilty of "child endangerment" and should be labeled as a sex offender for the rest of her life is clearly a delusional puritan.

  • Bendal1 Apr 13, 2010

    Technically, any teenager who sends naked/sexually explicit photos of themselves to anyone via computer or cellphone is guilty of distributing child pornography, and would therefore get a "sex offender" tag applied to them for the rest of their lives. That's already happened in other states, too.

  • Viewer Apr 13, 2010

    PARENTS who procure these tools should warn their kids just like driver safety stuff; but unfortunately some teenagers only learn by pain.

    Criminalization of this modern electronic flirting is not the answer either.

  • larky74406 Apr 13, 2010

    My son has a cell phone. Since payphones have mostly disappeared, every kid should have one.

  • shortcake53 Apr 13, 2010

    Cell phones didnt exist when I was a teen, and I managed to get through those years just fine. There was no danger of sending inappropriate messages or pictures, and my parents didnt have to worry about monitoring any devices. Just because technology is out there doesnt mean every kid has to have one. I wouldnt hand my car keys to my 8 yr old grandchild, even tho he can reach the pedals. Bring back common sense.

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