SEGUIN, Texas - Seguin police and the Seguin Independent School District are stressing the importance of parents warning their children about the dangers of sexting.
On Wednesday, the A.J. Briesemeister Middle School held a parent night that included the act of sexting in the discussion.
“This was a way for us to educate families on this topic,” said Sean Hoffmann, executive director of communications for the district. “We want parents to be more active in their children’s social life. Know what is going on and question them. Sit down with them and share with them what their expectations are as a parent and tell them as a child what is acceptable and not acceptable on social media.”
Parents applaud the district's efforts to raise awareness about the issue.
“The kids don’t know what they are getting themselves into,” said Michael Bencomo, a parent of a seventh-grade and an eighth-grader. “They think it is all fun and games until something serious happens.”
He said with one of his children having autism, it is even harder to have the conversation about sexting with them, but he knows it has to be done.
“It is hard to explain things like that, so we just do our best and yes, it makes me sad and upset about it, but what can you do? It is just our jobs as parents to keep it track of that,” Bencomo said. “I think no matter what you do, kids are going to find one way to do it, but it is up to us as parents to keep up with that and speak to them about that. We all need to be aware of what sexting can bring.”
Tanya Brown, public information officer for the Seguin Police Department, said sexting is not only illegal but very dangerous.
“Once it is out in circulation, you never know what sites it is uploaded on, and you’re a child, so it is something that can follow you for the rest of your life,” Brown said. “We see it happen in national news all the time. Somebody trusted somebody on social media who claims they were underage, and one type of relationship forms and the predators do lure them into meeting them somewhere, and these kids end up kidnapped or sometimes dead.”
She added even if you are a young teen, you can face serious charges for sexting, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies.
“If you take an inappropriate photograph and you send that to someone via text, then they are in possession of it,” said Brown. "You being a minor, that person on the receiving end is now in possession of child pornography.”
Hoffmann said they have had to address instances that have happened on campus.
“Usually, it is an outcry from a student, or one student may be concerned about another student, or we may have a parent that comes to us and shares their concerns,” said Hoffmann. “For obvious reasons, we haven’t had students take inappropriate pictures of themselves while at school, so it happens off campus mostly. We cannot monitor what takes place on the weekends or outside of school hours, which is why it is important for parents to be more aware of these situations.”
Hoffmann said they decided to add sexting as a topic to their Character Education Program as a way to keep everyone aware, especially their middle schoolers.
“It is not so much the high schoolers that are doing this,” said Hoffman. “This is mostly targeted toward the middle school students because they are young and they find gratitude in being liked. It is very important for them to be accepted, so on their social media accounts, they are getting liked and may do things they would regret later.”
He said another factor deals with the way technology and social media platforms are evolving.
“There is a growing gap between parents’ knowledge of everything that is going on out there,” Hoffman said. “Social media platforms are getting bigger, and there are newer places for teens to go for social media. We all just need to keep up with the times and make sure we are aware of everything they are doing online.”
This district also released these simple tips for parents to follow to prevent their children from sexting:
Talk about sexting with your child.
Actively monitor their social media accounts.
Know who their friends are.
Be vigilant of their actions.
Copyright 2019 by KSAT - All rights reserved.