Sheriff’s office to begin handing out citations for teens caught sexting

Teenagers are sending racy, naked photos from their cell phones. So the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is taking steps to protect your children from the repercussions they aren’t thinking about.

Between texting, Snapchat and Instagram, there are now more ways than ever for teens to send and receive inappropriate messages.

“Anyone can stumble upon a picture or a comment or a video that’s posted and share it without you even knowing that they’ve seen it,” said Denise Dull.

Dull is a concerned parent who says she’s talked to her kids about the dangers of sexting.

The sheriff’s office will soon begin handing out a new county-wide sexting citation hoping to deter students from sending these racy images.

“A lot of young people unfortunately don’t see the criminal problem or even just the long-term problems of sending these types of pictures back and forth with each other,” said Katin Heck, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

Parents say they’re all for holding kids accountable for their actions.

“Before you hit that button, there are consequences or there may be consequences to keeping, sharing, storing information that’s not appropriate,” Dull said.

The department created the citation to have a standardized way of documenting first offenses since one wasn’t included when sexting first became illegal in 2015.

“It’s something that we want to nip in the bud before it becomes any kind of major problem here in Charlotte County,” Heck said.

Just today, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office released a PSA about sexting.

It’s that type of message deputies are hoping to send teens in Charlotte County.

The first time a minor is caught sexting, they would get a civil citation, with a $60 fine or eight hours of community service, and eventually attending a class where they learn the dangers of sexting.

The second offense is a misdemeanor. The third is a felony. Citations will start being issued in the next few weeks.

Reporter:Kristi Gross
Writer:Erica Brown
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