When San Diego police held a free seminar on the dangers of sexting, the number of parents who showed was fewer than the number of kids they see sexting.
It was a sparse crowd for the city’s first public meeting on sexting, organized after authorities announced pending arrests in a sexting ring involving local high school and middle school students.
The lack of attendance was disappointing to San Diego police and surprising to many parents who did show up.
San Diego police were hoping to pack the Cathedral Catholic gymnasium Thursday night for the lesson on the use of cell phones for sexting.
Photos were used by the police foundation to illustrate the problem.
San Diego Police Department’s Juvenile Services Officer Jordan Wells says possessing, sharing or taking sexually explicit photos of boys and girls under 18 years old is child pornography.
“Somebody is going to have that conversation with their children would you rather it be you as a parent or some predator out there,” Officer Wells said.
While kids make think it's a joke; it's a serious crime. The consequences can be devastating to a child's future.
“Particularly for children who don't have the ability to understand that or think that they are invincible or won't happen to them,“ parent participant Leslie Sharp said.
Parents at the seminar have many concerns and pointed questions. Most of them concerned family responsibility and liability.
If kids receive such images they are expected to promptly report it to police.
If a parent finds and a sexually explicit image of their child, they're expected to share it with police.
“Everything is moving extremely fast and as a parent you are quite often caught off guard and unaware of what the dangers are or even what is out there,” Parent Diana Li said.
Parents should be talking to their kids about sexting as early as middle school.
Police say these so-called “sexy selfies” traded among friends are finding their way to the computers of sex offenders and
“It behooves us to say to our children, ‘Hey Babe, let's talk. Turn it off and let's talk.’ I will be doing that,” parent Kim O’Connell said.
San Diego's Internet Crimes Against Children Task force is investigating a sexting ring involving 30 teenagers including one middle school student.
While officer Wells would not disclose more information about the case, he says every one of the kids' parents said their child would never do that.