“There's not a community that isn't touched by this,” Internet Safety Advocate Bill Latchford says.
Latchford says sexting cases like the one last week at Southern Huntingdon High School aren't as rare as you think.
“Kids think that they're actually more immune to getting in trouble because they're doing it via the apps like Snapchat,” Latchford says.
Snapchat allows kids to send and receive photos or videos that disappear after a short time.
Latchford says teens often don't realize the consequences that can come with sexting like harassment and bullying.
“They are teenagers. They're going to do things that maybe they shouldn't but I think the best thing we can do is give them the open lines of communication,” Hollidaysburg YMCA Program Director Frank Kopriva says.
The Hollidaysburg YMCA offers programs that bring dozens of teens in and out of their building everyday.
Kopriva says they're always open to talking with kids about the dangers they face...both on and offline.
“All of our staff in the building know that if they see something that seems wrong they have the right to go take care of it. They can't just walk past it and ignore it,” Kopriva says.
But a watchful eye only goes so far.
Latchford says parents need to do their part, and the most important step is staying up to date.
“Parents that don't keep up with the tech are going to fall way behind and the kids will be way ahead of them and getting into trouble. There's no if ands or buts about it, they will get into trouble with the technology,” Latchford says.
And Latchford says little things like limiting cell phone use for teens and simply checking their phones at night can go a long way to keeping them out of trouble. You can find more tips on keeping kids safe online by visiting his website at http://www.protectchildrenonline.org/
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