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Dade County officials warn parents about sexting among teens

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Your children may be distributing child porn without even knowing it. It's happening through sexting. (Image: SBG file)

Your children may be distributing child porn without even knowing it. It's happening through sexting.

Teens send sexually explicit photos to each other and oftentimes, they'll be sent to more than one person.

It's something that schools and law enforcement in the area are trying to stop.

"Once it gets out there - that's stuff that never goes away," said Sgt. Chad Payne, Dade County Sheriff's Office. "It's not something that we deal with weekly, but there are cases that pop up."

Many experts differ on statistics, but a 2009 study conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project confirms sexting is a teen reality that's here to stay.

So, why do teens do it?

"With that particular age, you're going through changes and everything, and your hormones are out of control, and it's really easy. You don't feel like it's probably illegal because you're taking a picture of yourself or your friend is willingly sending it to you," Payne added.

In one case in Dade County, the sheriff's office tells us a student sent a nude picture of herself from her phone to three other students.

Before the student knew it, the pictures was found on 15 other students' phones.

The sheriff's office believes more than 50 people ending up seeing that picture.

"Just because your child is 9 or 10 years old does not mean that they are safe," said James Fahrney, Dade County HS principal. That's the message he wants all parents to hear.

He says sexting is everywhere.

"It's one of those things that's a constant struggle," Fahrney said.

But, he believes having an open line of communication with kid. is one of the first steps in dealing with it.

"It's one thing to be spying and that kind of thing, but it's also another thing to put that loaded gun in a kids hand expect them not to pull the trigger," he added.

Payne says it's important for kids to understand that they can face criminal charges whether they take the picture, send the picture, or keep it.

"Once you have that picture on your phone, you're technically by law in Georgia in possession of child porn even though it's you," Payne said. "There are apps out there that hide a lot of what goes on from parents. So, it's not just enough to monitor what your children are doing on their phone, you have to essentially investigate what your children are doing on their phone."

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