FAIRVIEW, Pa. - State Police in Girard have charged three Fairview teens for sexting.
In a release, police said two 13-year-old girls and one 13-year-old boy, all from Fairview, were cited for the transmission of sexually explicit images by a minor.
Superintendent of the Fairview School District, Dr. Erik Kincade, said the incident did not take place in school, but rather, school officials at Fairview Middle School were made aware of the students discussing a sexting incident that took place outside of school.
District officials were made aware May 17, 2016 of the student's discussion and promptly contacted State Police, said Kincade.
The issue of sexting is much more prevalent in 2016, said Children's Advocacy Center executive director, Michael Gaines, than when he began at the agency six years ago.
"One in every five girls will be at least approached to sext before the age of 18," said Gaines. "What seems like, 'oh go head and it won't matter', suddenly becomes the biggest thing in the world. Children often times feel pressured to be involved because their friends are saying that they are into it or their friends are telling them that they are not cool if they aren't. Kids don't think through the long-term ramifications; they think of the immediate moment."
In addition to peer harassment and bullying, sexting can lead to what Gaines calls "sexploitation."
"That's where somebody...an older person gets ahold of that picture and identifies the child, contacts the child and says 'I want more'," said Gaines, adding that predators might blackmail the minor, threatening to tell a parent or police if they don't send more. "Parents need to be comfortable talking with their kids about what is appropriate and what is not appropriate, what are boundaries, what the ramifications are."
The Fairview School District's policy regarding sexting reads as follows:
"Sexting, that is, the electronic transmission of inappropriate sexual photographs of one’s self or others via cell phones or other electronic devices has become a problem in schools. Any student found to have sent and/or received inappropriate photographs of a sexual nature, shall be subject to disciplinary consequences, and may also be referred to local law enforcement authorities for possible criminal violations."
State Police said all three Fairview teens will be charged in District Court with summary offenses, punishable by fines of up to $300 each.
"If you're the person who sent that text, it's a summary offense. If you're the person who receives that text or disseminates it, that's a summary offense," said Trooper Stephen Oler. "More importantly, you have the embarrassment of your private body being out in the public and you don't know where that's going to go."
Oler urges parents to be vigilant and involved with their child's electronic activity.
"Make sure that you are looking at their iPods, make sure you're looking at their cell phones and see what your child is doing on all these electronics that we have," said Oler.
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