April 4, 2014
"Sexting" is on the rise among teenagers.
Now, parents and local agencies are trying to teach kids about the damage it can cause.
A recent survey found twenty percent of teens and thirty percent of young adults had sent naked or semi-nude photos of themselves electronically.
The Albemarle County police department investigated seven of these cases in a six week period last winter.
And with another sexting scandal discovered in Louisa County this week that spanned several counties and thousands of images, it’s safe to say it’s happening here.
For kids, it’s hard to imagine that one racy photo can lead to career damage, or even jail time.
"It’s a lot about educating them about how the internet works, that what they put up there can stay up there for forever, for a long time, and i don't think kids are always aware of that."
So as a parent, what's the best thing plan of attack to protect your child?
Counselors like Brittany Selkregg from Children, Youth and Family Services say first, talk to your kid.
“I think it’s great for them to be open with their kid and approach it just wanting to learn more about what they are learning online and frame it from a safety perspective. Not to come at them that they are in trouble right away but to set these boundaries and parameters."
County police spokeswoman Carter Johnson says you should have a conversation with your child about the long term effects of that one photo.
"It’s important for parents to remind kids that once an image is sent, you can’t retrieve it. Once you send something it’s out there and you lose control of it. So we really want students and parents to understand that."
And don't be afraid to monitor their online presence.
"They [the parents] get to make the rules, it’s okay to be friends with your kids on Facebook and that kind of stuff. You can control the password. I think people don't want to overstep those boundaries sometimes but if that’s what the kid needs to learn then that’s okay."
"Surviving the Teen Years," is still enrolling families for the upcoming session that starts Wednesday, April 9. People can learn more and access information to sign up at www.cyfs.org.