Albemarle Schools Work with Authorities to Stop "Sexting" Among Students
Albemarle County Schools, police, and prosecutors are partnering to stop students from sharing intimate images in a practice known to teens as "sexting."
This response comes after a rash of recent investigations. Albemarle County police say seven of those cases reached investigators and prosecutors in the past six weeks. They're warning students that seemingly fun and flirty sexting is a crime.
School Resource Officer Tripp Martin patrols the halls of Monticello High School as mentor and enforcer. This semester he's become the first line of defense against a bully that hides in a smartphone camera.
“They can use these photos for blackmail or any other issues you can think of like that,” said Martin.
Sexting creates a scandalous environment as students message nude images.
“They may start talking about it and it becomes a rumor mill. Then, instruction and learning are impeded,” said Matt Haas, superintendent for Albemarle County Public Schools.
Detectives investigated seven cases of sexting involving Albemarle County students in the past six weeks.
“Once you send that first photograph, you can never get it back and it starts this cascading effect,” said Colonel Steve Sellers of the Albermarle County Police Department.
Police and prosecutors are now teaming up to stop the spread of pornographic pictures.
“Their privacy and their intimacy is destroyed,” said Darby Lowe, deputy commonwealth’s attorney for Albemarle County.
Sexts sent between underage teens is illegal. Sharing those private photos can lead to a distribution of child pornography charge.
“We want them not to be disseminating them if they receive them and not to be sending them initially so they don't get out into the hands of other students or, as importantly, online predators,” said Lowe.
Albemarle County's response to sexting problems in schools comes with prosecution and prevention.
“We don't want to come off hard-handed and prosecute everyone. We want to stop this. We want to come in and help these students think,” said Lowe.
Officer Martin has an open-door policy for his students to discuss this intimate intimidation. “Definitely report it,” he says.
Monticello High School will host a county-wide forum with all those groups involved in stopping sexting next Monday at 7 p.m.
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