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Sexting Investigation at PA High School Casts a Wider Net

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Last week, eight Perry County teens were charged with child pornography for allegedly recording sex acts on their cell phones and sending them to others.

perry county teens on school campus

Now police are in the beginning stages of a large-scale investigation at a Franklin County high school.

"I didn't even know what sexting was. My daughter had to tell me," said parent Sally Cournoyer.

Sexting -- recording sexual acts and transmitting them to others via cell phones -- is something that is traceable and punishable by law. Police reports state that as many as 30 students at Chambersburg Senior High School could be involved in a recent sexting incident.

The school district found out about it after students came forward to teachers and an anonymous tip line.

"There possibly was an e-mail out, circulating among students that had explicit pictures of students within the high school," said Assistant Superintendent Eric Michael.

"There are photos of some young ladies that are in various stages of nudity," said Chambersburg Police Chief Dave Arnold.

One parent said the incident is an eye opener for both students and parents.

"They have to realize it's not going to stop at their one friend," said Cournoyer.

"Our job will be to chase down who had these, who transmitted them and go back to the D.A.'s office and consult with them," said Arnold.

Schools Re-Evaluate Internet Safety Training

With other cases of sexting, school officials thought they had prepared students by giving them Internet safety training.

"We're very concerned that this message, for some reason, is not getting through. We want to look at how we're delivering that," said Michael.

Now school officials and police are trying to figure out how to handle technology that can make things easier, but in this case, more complex.

"Unfortunately, as the law exists right now, a student could be charged with a felony. That could have a lot of repercussions for them into the future," said Arnold.

Assistant superintendent Michael said he wants to make sure discipline in this case is appropriate, but also does not "impair or impede a student's life forever."

News 8 looked into how common it is for teens and students to see or post sexually explicit messages online.

A survey conducted last year by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reveals that 20 percent of teens surveyed have posted nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves online. The survey also found that 39 percent of teens surveyed have sent or posted sexually suggestive messages.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Bill Goode November 11, 2009, 9:01 AM

“Sexting” teenagers is a problem and needs to be dealt with, but charging these kids with distribution of child pornography does not help anyone. Such a charge can ruin their life as they will be forced to register as sex offenders. Assuming that all of this was done consensually it shows bad judgment on their part, but certainly nothing predatory. For the rest of their lives they’re going to have to inform new neighbors, schools, jobs, etc. that they are sex offenders. This behavior does not merit that kind of social branding.

egene December 3, 2009, 5:52 PM

I agree with Bill but one cannot diminish the harsh reality of what these students have done. From the article I can only extract these are kids who have been raised in part with such liberal ideas that they believe it is okay to share with others intimate moments with others. I am not so old, nor blind to changes in our cultural morals but in my day, we did have sex, but we never shared these moments openly with others. This says to me something in the changes over the past decades or two have led kids to believe they have the right and responsibility to throw their everything to the wind and not take responsibility for their actions. Severe and unforgettable punishment should be metered out to each participant but not tagged as porn

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