Deputies crack down on underage kids with nude pictures of other underage kids
STEPHANIE BEECKEN-6 News Reporter
LENOIR CITY (WATE) - Law enforcement agencies are warning kids and their parents about a crack down on children sharing nude photos and videos of other children.
One juvenile now faces child pornography charges and it's something that may happen more often if students don't change their behavior.
According to the Loudon County Sheriff's Department, spring break has caused law enforcement to have back-to-back cases of underage kids being sexually exploited by other kids under the age of 18.
Officials are taking these cases very seriously. If a juvenile takes, sends or accepts the nude photos or videos, they could face child porn charges.
Shauntay Oggs is a single mother of three teens. She tries to monitor their activity on the cell phone and social media sites.
"I think a lot with social media, children are just able to do whatever, so I try to stay on them as much as I possibly can," said Oggs.
Loudon County Sheriff's Detective Jason Smith says unfortunately many parents have no clue what their kids are really doing online and with their cell phone.
Over spring break the sheriff's department was busier than ever handling back-to-back juvenile child porn cases.
"During our spring break period, we saw a lot of juveniles going back and forth sharing pictures, sharing photos of themselves," said Smith.
Parents, school leaders and court officials bring the nude photos and obscene videos to law enforcement to investigate.
Det. Smith says if a juvenile takes a nude photo or inappropriate video of themselves and sends or posts it, they can be charged with distributing child pornography.
If a juvenile receives the picture or video, they could be charged with possessing child pornography.
"We are starting to crack down on juveniles who are starting to do this," said Smith.
Smith says many students are sharing obscene photos. One student was charged last week after law enforcement found nude photos of a juvenile on his cell phone.
"We did end up charging him with sexual exploitation of a minor, that being his girlfriend," said Smith.
Oggs says she's already made it clear to her kids with her home rules that taking, sending or possessing inappropriate images of juveniles is not allowed, but she says now she'll emphasize it's also a crime.
"How you monitor and set examples at home is how things get represented outside of your home," said Smith.
Det. Smith wants parents to tell their kids that once a photo is sent or posted, it could be online forever. Not only could the image hurt the juvenile's future, the image will likely be viewed by predators.
He says if a parent owns the phone or computer and knows the image is on the device, they too could also face charges.