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WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 13, 2013, 10:52 AM

Technology leading to surge in teen sexting

Fargo-Moorhead (WDAY TV) – There are shocking statistics about a child pornography problem hitting our region from creation to easy access online. Parents, watch out - your kids could be sending sexually explicit pictures, videos, and messages before they even make it to middle school.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY

Fargo-Moorhead (WDAY TV) – There are shocking statistics about a child pornography problem hitting our region from creation to easy access online. Parents, watch out - your kids could be sending sexually explicit pictures, videos, and messages before they even make it to middle school.

Sex, porn, and technology; nowadays they all go hand in hand, often coming right from fingertips of kids in our community.

Lt. Joel Vettel – Fargo Police: "The minute they hit that send button, those things are there forever."

Lt. Mike Detloff – Moorhead Police: "They're seeing it almost on a daily occurrence where kids as young as fifth grade are sending inappropriate pictures."

Grace Conway – MSUM Sophomore: "That's insane. I didn't even know what sex was in fifth grade."

Teen sexting is sweeping the nation in high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools right here in the metro.

Robert Seim – Ben Franklin School Counselor: "One of the things we ask a student is, ‘Why would you do this? Why would you forward something on?’ Their first thoughts are to me, ‘I wasn't thinking.’"

Not thinking, and never imagining the consequences.

Lt. Mike Detloff: "Reality is, they're creating child pornography."

One in five teens has sent a naked picture of themselves to someone else or posted online. Even more alarming, 1 in 10 of these sexters say they've sent pornographic pictures or videos to people they don't even know. Once this porn is created there's no telling how far it can go.

Grace Conway: "One of my friends, her ex-boyfriend leaked her photos on the internet and stuff and it didn't have her name, but just the fact that it’s out there."

Jacob Frank – MSUM Freshman: "It's all over nowadays, it's really bad"

With mass texts, social media, and smart phones, homemade teen porn can spread within seconds.

Robert Seim: "There's something new every day that they can utilize."

Dr. Jeff Schatz – Fargo Schools Superintendent: "Whether it's through Facebook or Twitter, or all of these other types of things that people are engaged in."

One new outlet gaining ground is Twitter's Vine App. Users can search for short videos - even porn - or simply create their own to share. Meaning anyone with a smart phone of any age can see it, and pass it on.

Lt. Joel Vettel: "The availability to those types of technology is in the hands of kids as young as six, seven years old."

Jacob Frank: "That's half the problem is technology. I didn't get my first phone until I was about sixteen."

So in an age where kids always fight to fit in, sexting is sadly becoming the new norm.

Robert Seim: "If their peers are doing it, peers want them to do it. It's hard to say no."

Private, personal pictures, now online for the whole world to see.

Robert Seim: "Once it's out, you can't get it back."

Lt. Mike Detloff: "We would be lying if could tell you that we could."

It’s a long lasting reminder of a quick mistake made far too young.

According to an internet safety survey, this Valentine's Day 36% of Americans will send a naked picture to someone else.

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