Caddo SO cracking down on sexting among teens - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Caddo SO cracking down on sexting among teens

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CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) -

Like Bossier Parish, Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office is also battling sexting situations in some parish schools.

Detective Jared Marshall with the Youth Services Division says sexting is becoming a widespread problem.

Law enforcement and school officials in Caddo are doing their part to protect teens and teach them about the consequences of sexting.

Sexting is when someone sends inappropriate pictures and text messages to other friends, or in worse cases, people they hardly know or don't know at all.

Not only can an inappropriate picture can end up on the Internet or in the wrong hands, but it can also lead to charges as serious as possession of child pornography.

Marshall said he's seen sexting cases among teens as young as 11-years-old. He said sometimes something that may seem innocent, is actually a pretty serious offense.

"They get wrapped up in the whole sexting. Once they reach that age of 17, all bets are off for they're an adult and they can be charged with instead of sexting, they can be charged with possession of child pornography," Marshall said.

Det. Marshall described their most recent sexting case as one of the largest they've had to deal with in some time.

A group of about eight teens, students from a North Caddo school, were sharing inappropriate pictures of one another with one another after school hours and off school property.

The students ranged in age from 12-years-old to about 15-years-old.

Marshall said a parent found out about the sexting and brought it to the school's attention. The school then brought in law enforcement to deal with the issue.

"They were daring each other to do things and one thing lead to another and just like kids sometimes they don't want to keep those images to themself, they have to show them to their friends, people that are close to them and before you know it, those images can get into the wrong hands, parents are notified of it and ultimately law enforcement gets involved," Marshall said.

Teens are sharing these inappropriate pictures through text messages, Facetime, Snapchat--a smart phone app that allows the user to send a picture and then is supposedly disappears after a few seconds, and other photo sharing apps on smart phones.

In the North Caddo school case, no arrest was made. Sexting charges require certain elements to match up and in this case they did not, according to Marshall.

However, officers sat down with the students involved to make sure they understand the consequences of their actions for future reference.

The school's principal said they are being proactive when it comes to the sexting issue. Wall said once a month teachers go over the responsible way to use the Internet and social media with the students.

Again, this case did not happen on school property.

CPSO said the first thing parents need to do is communicate with their child in a polite way. This will open the doors to an open line of communication and could prevent the teen from making some wrong decisions.

Here are some helpful tips for parents when it comes to Internet safety and their child:

First, communicate house rules with the teen. Let them know what behavior is expected of them and remind them of the consequences of sending inappropriate pictures through text.

Look at the cell phone records and look for any number you may not recognize. Ask your child about it. You may not know all of your child's friends and who they talk to on a daily basis.

Ask your child for their phone. CPSO said if your child is reluctant to give it up, he or she may be hiding something.

Know who your child is talking to.

Marshall said it's not the only thing for parents to be aware of. Staying familiar with the trending smart phone apps and social media sites can help prevent sexting. Most of the applications and website require users to register a username as a form of identification. CPSO said it's as easy as doing a Google search to see what the trending apps are.

"Parents are the real first responders in trying to combat the problem of sexting because it's an ever growing problem because of the way these people design their applications for smart phones," Marshall said. "It's not going to stop as long as we have cell phones, so just a friendly reminder to parents to be aware of what your children are doing."

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