Vail Valley kids can texts selves into trouble
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado “-Teenagers in Colorado’s Vail Valley who send provocative picture or text messages to their boyfriends and girlfriends could be in for a rude awakening if those photos get into the wrong hands.
A Florida teen was recently charged with distribution of child pornography ” a felony in Colorado ” for sending a naked picture of his girlfriend to a few friends. Now he has to register as a sex offender until he’s in his 40s.
“(Texting) is kind of a new thing,” said Brian Hollenbaugh, the Internet crimes investigator with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. “Everyone is trying to get a handle on it.”
The Sheriff’s Office and the Eagle County School District have begun talking about “sexting” in their Internet Safety program, a 60-minute presentation shown to local students, community groups and parents. That presentation focuses more on Internet predators ” typically adults trying to lure children online sexually ” and online bullying, when kids bash each other on Web sites and then rumors start flying in school, said John Kuglin, chief information officer for the Eagle County School District.
The information the agencies give parents and students is meant to help them realize the dangers of these technologies, Kuglin said.
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“We’ve got to protect our children,” he said. “In case of sexting, we have to protect them from themselves.”
Teenagers might think sending a topless photo to their boyfriend is harmless flirting, but a national survey of teenagers by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy shows there are consequences ” 36 percent of teen girls and 39 percent of teen boys say it’s common for nude or semi-nude photos to get shared with people other than the intended recipient.
That’s what happened to the Florida teen who got himself in serious trouble ” reports say the boy wanted to get back at his ex-girlfriend so he forwarded her nude photo to friends as revenge.
Kuglin said it’s so important to teach local kids about the consequences of what they do online or via text message.
“Once you post online (or press send), you don’t get it back,” he said.
Hollenbaugh said all the access kids have to different technologies is just making it easier for them to get themselves in trouble, even though what they’re doing isn’t much different that what teenagers have done for generations, he said.
“It’s unfortunate that technology is making it very easy for it to get out of control,” he said.
While there haven’t been cases in Colorado as severe as the conviction in Florida yet, it doesn’t mean it’s not possible, Hollenbaugh said.
“On the books, it’s a felony,” Hollenbaugh said. “If it’s pushed to the point where kids are actively distributing (sexual pictures and text messages), it needs to be handled.”
Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org
– 20 percent ” average number of teens who say they have sent/posted nude or seminude pictures or video of themselves
– 39 percent of all teens sent or posted sexually suggestive messages
– 38 percent of teen girls and 39 percent of teen boys say they have had sexually suggestive text messages or e-mails ” originally meant for someone else ” shared with them
– 25 percent of teen girls and 33 percent of teen boys say they have had nude or semi-nude images ” originally meant for someone else ” shared with them
-44 percent of both teen girls and teen boys say it is common for sexually suggestive text messages to get shared with people other than the intended recipient
– 36 percent of teen girls and 39 percent of teen boys say it is common for nude or semi-nude photos to get shared with people other than the intended recipient.
Source: a survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy
Advice for teens:
– Don’t assume anything you send or post is going to remain private
– There is no changing your mind in cyberspace ” anything you send or post will never truly go away
– Don’t give in to the pressure to do something that makes you uncomfortable, even in cyberspace
– Nothing is truly anonymous
Advice for Parents:
– Talk to your kids about what they are doing in cyberspace
– Know who your kids are communicating with
– Consider limitations on electronic communication
– Be aware of what your teens are posting publicly
– Set expectations
Source: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy