Sexting: A serious crime for minors - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Sexting: A serious crime for minors

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Teens and experimenting are two words that seem to go hand in hand. The consequences for experimenting could land your teen into a heap of trouble.

Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston Police Department told 13NEWS,  "It is a violation of the law regarding child pornography to either send of possess lewd photographs of underage individuals, even if the send and the recipient are both underage."

Educators in our area know this crime all too well. As a result, they take time to teach the serious nature of the crime that teens may not even know they're committing. 

"Not only could there be criminal charges and penalties of that nature, fines, and possibly incarceration, a student could forfeit the opportunity at a great college career," said Clinton Giles, Principal of Capital High School in Charleston. 

C.J. Harvey is the Student Council President at Capital High School.  Harvey believes punishment for sexting is deserved.

"Until someone gets caught or you get caught or something happens, nobody realizes that those are the actual dangers," Harvey said. "I'm all for it. I think that it's wrong. Sexting is wrong."

Inappropriate photos are typically discovered after cell phones are confiscated from students during the school day. 

"In the subsequent search of the phone we may find an image," said Assistant Principal of Herbert Hoover High School, Jason Cantrell. "If we find that image we make sure to let law enforcement know immediately so they can conduct their own investigation and then we take whatever disciplinary action we feel is necessary."

Giles and Cantrell agree.  In an educational environment, it all starts with teaching students the difference between what many consider right and wrong.

"We have also shared with students the importance of maintaining their reputations as squeaky clean as they possibly can," said Giles. "Colleges and universities are now looking at social networking sites."

A good reputation can't hurt college admissions, but many say the laws aren't all black and white.

"It's kind of a gray area, and they're working on re-writing the laws," said Cantrell. 

Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha, is leading the cause to re-write laws regarding the consequences of sexting among minors.  

Poore said the laws are currently written to protect adults from children. She believes one mistake made by a teen shouldn't give them a criminal record for the rest of their lives, especially when we're talking about a child pornography charge.

In the meantime, everyone can agree it all begins with talking to young adults.

Giles told 13NEWS, "You don't want to be big brother looking over their shoulder and micro-managing the child's life but you also want to provide that kind of structure and responsible parenting and leadership that the parent should in the home to keep the child safe."