The large auditorium fidgeted with anxious freshman boys and girls last Friday as Alan Reed, lead investigator at Oneida Police Department, spoke about a new type of explicit behavior called sexting.
The uses of cell phones have surpassed typical verbal communication and now serve as devises to write or text messages as well as send pictures. This new use of technology has caused increased awareness of the type of messages being sent among juveniles.
Local investigators are working with the district attorney’s office to prosecute juveniles who send pornographic material via their cell phones, said Children’s Center Executive Director Tracie Phillips.
Last week, Phillips and forensic interviewer Betty Reed attempted to educate the student body at Campbell County High School about the charges that could be filed for sending explicit pictures of themselves to other students.
In addition to discussing the possible criminal charges associated with sending pornographic pictures, Officer Alan Reed explained to the students that any information ever saved on a cell phone could be retrieved with a variety of technology.
The 15 and 16 year-old students asked if information can be retrieved from phones that are destroyed by fire, water or severely crushed.
In response, he reassured the students, saying any information saved can be recovered from a phone in any imaginable state.
“Every state around us is already prosecuting for sexting,” said Reed. “And we are trying to educate the students on the charges of being a sexual predator. Anything with pornography is a felony.”
Though the saying goes that kids will be kids, the Campbell County Children’s Center considers education an important weapon in prevention, said Phillips.
“It all starts out as an innocent joke,” said Phillips. “But the legal ramifications are something they need to be aware of.”
The professionals spoke to the students in grades ninth through twelfth, relaying the importance and responsibility of handling a cell phone.
“This is an excellent program and it is very important to educate the students of cell phone activity,” said Vice-principal Pam Walden.