An incident involving several students of Canyon Park and Skyview Junior High Schools sexting nudes to each other has been uncovered and is under active investigation by Bothell Police Department.
“We began investigating Friday morning [when the issue came to light] and immediately contacted police, who are now investigating,” said Leanna Albrecht, communications director for the Northshore School District.”
Sexting is a nation-wide issue and, according to the National Crime Prevention Council, there have been cases where teens involved in sexting have been charged with child exploitation and possession of child pornography, some teens have even committed suicide from the lasting emotional side-effects.
“I definitely don’t think it’s uncommon, I read the paper in Washington and see it on there often, about somebody sending something inappropriate,” said Bothell Police Sgt. Ken Suberlich. “It’s not super common here, we don’t investigate it a lot, but two or three of these is plenty.
The Northshore School District is gathering information to send to parents regarding sexting.
“It’s important for our students and families to be aware of the pressures on students face as they are engaging in the digital age,” Albrecht said. “Our students have immediate access through their smart phones and social media and, with that, it provides them with the opportunity for immediate communications with their peers and it brings additional challenges, such as bullying and sexting.”
Police also urges parents to have conversations about sexting with their children.
“We’re asking parents to talk with their children about their cell phone and internet usage, and how to safely use the internet, safely take photos and safely use social media,” Suberlich said. “Ask your kids to see the photos that are on there, just to make sure and keep kids out of trouble.”
According to Suberlich, if explicit photos are found, parents should immediately contact the police department with the information.
“If there are inappropriate photos on the phones, the PD is asking parents to call them especially as they are investigating the case – in scope and breadth,” Suberlich said. “It’s much better for people to come forward to say ‘Here’s what I found on my phone,’ rather than have the information come out through a search warrant.”
Some of the tips from the National Crime Prevention Council include refusing to be pressured into sexting, thinking twice before sending sexually explicit pictures, thinking about who would be seeing the picture should it get out.
Some of the tips from the National Crime Prevention Council include never sending or posting sexually provocative pictures, refusing to be pressured into sending explicit photos, never opening or forwarding explicit photos, and telling a parent or trusted adult if someone continually sends phone users explicit pictures.
Another important piece of information to remember, according to the National Crime Prevention Council, is that healthy relationships are built on mutual respect, not just sexual attraction.
“We’ll be sharing resources with families and we are asking families to please review the information that’s available and talk to their students about some of the cautions and challenges associated with it,” Albrecht said.
Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.68A.050 states that dealing with sexually explicit depictions of minors can be a class B felony, up to ten years in prison and $20,000 fine, or class C felony, up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, based on the charges given by the prosecuting attorney.
As the investigation is still ongoing, its unknown what kind of charges will be pressed and against whom.
“The punishment will be up to the prosecutor, the detectives will gather the information and then send it on to the attorneys. They’re the ones to make that determination,” Suberlich said.