After the third "sexting" incident in a month, a Southern California police department is warning parents of young teens about the dangers of sending sexually explicit photos or messages over their phones.
Sexual photos were found on the cellphones of three underage boys in Fullerton in the past month, police said.
One of those boys was allegedly molested by a 28-year-old math teacher at Nicolas Junior High School, police said.
In a separate incident, nude photos of an underage girl were discovered on a 12-year-old boy’s phone, authorities said.
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"Images may come back to haunt you later in life as they may be accessible to your family members, significant others, employers and in some cases, even your children. Consider the consequences of your actions before you choose to act," Fullerton police Sgt. Jeff Stuart said in a news release.
A July 2010 FBI study found that 20 percent of teenagers sent or posted a nude or semi-nude photo online. While sexting is not a new phenomenon, officials said they’ve noticed a trend upwards among younger teens and are seeking to prevent situations that sometimes end in tragedy, such as suicide.
The department is urging parents and families to speak with their children to reinforce the message. Stuart said that parents shouldn’t be afraid to monitor their child’s technology and noted that it is a crime to send or receive explicit photos of a minor via text, email or social media.
"There have been occasions where if parents had been monitoring their child’s technology, they might have seen an inappropriate relationship developing before the actual abuse occurred," he said.