Sheriff Says Teen “Sexting” is a Growing Concern

By: Litsa Pappas Email
By: Litsa Pappas Email

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY -- Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson is trying to find ways to stop a growing trend among teens, called “sexting.” It's when a person shares a sexually explicit photo of themselves with someone else through a text message.

Many teens in the Valley are sexting and parents may not know about it. Many teens think their messages are a private conversation. They may not realize what they're doing is illegal in some cases and can turn into a very embarrassing situation.

"Something that starts off very innocently can end up being very embarrassing or a very illegal type of activity that's going on with sharing that information on cell phones," said Sheriff Hutcheson.

According to search warrants, this type of illegal activity happened in Elkton this past month. Investigators said a 16-year-old girl took nude pictures of herself for her 24-year-old boyfriend. He later posted those pictures from his phone to Facebook and now, he may face child pornography charges.

"When you're talking about juveniles and you have that inappropriate content, pictures and things of that nature, well that is already illegal and then to say well I'm going to send it or distribute it with others, well then now you've crossed yet another line."

Hutcheson said many teens don't realize what they're doing is illegal, especially when those pictures are shared with others.

"With so many juveniles having access to smartphones and iPhones and laptops and so much technology right at their fingertips, it's a growing concern for us in that sometimes they get led down the wrong road and bad things can happen."

Hutcheson said he's starting a class for parents and their kids to learn more about these issues. He said parents should check their kids' cell phones and online presence to keep them safe.

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