PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. (April 23, 2009)—Calvert County public school and law enforcement officials are concerned about a dangerous but growing trend in text messaging. Officials report that children as young as elementary school are "sexting" their friends and acquaintances by using their cell phones to send nude, semi-nude, or sexually explicit photographs of themselves and others to someone they know. Sometimes the photos are accompanied by sexually explicit messages.
This trend is not unique to Calvert County nor is it confined to one age group or demographic. A 2008 survey conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reported that 20% of teens and 11% of young teen girls had electronically sent nude or semi-nude photographs or videos of themselves.
But youngsters who participate in sexting forget that the photos they are sending do not remain private.
"My greatest fear is that students don't realize the full impact of what they are doing," said Sergeant Larry Titus, the Maryland State Police liaison officer for Calvert County Public Schools. "They send their photo to one person, who sends it to someone else, who can post it on a social internet site. The photo is then out there for everyone to see - including sexual predators."
Titus said that he has spoken with at least 50 parents this school year who had no idea their children were involved in this activity.
Kim Roof, Director of Student Services for Calvert County Public Schools, agrees that she wants to help prevent bad things from happening to students. "When children put their pictures out on cell phones and on the internet, they are putting themselves at great risk." she said
Roof said that technology is moving so fast, it is often hard for parents to keep up. "We all struggle to identify the ramifications of what can happen when children misuse technology," she continued. "What we asked parents to do several years ago to help ensure cyber-safety now extends to cell phones."
Roof and Titus suggest that to help protect their children parents should talk to their children about the dangers of sexting and should monitor their children's text messages.
"This is a trend, a fad," said Titus. "Children don't see the wrong in it until they see the consequences. And the consequences are sometimes devastating."
Source: Calvert County Public School System
Students across the USA being charged with child pornography for sexting