Teen sexting cases on the rise in Hancock County

HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. – Authorities in Hancock County are seeing a spike in sexting cases amongst teens.

“A lot of times you put something out there on the internet and it does not generally disappear and could be out there for a very long time,” said Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton.

It is not a new problem but a growing problem in the county.

“It is something that really got on our radar back in the spring of 2017.

Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton says several teens in his county have recently been questioned by police about sending or receiving sexually explicit pictures.

“It is fair to say dozens of teens. It is an equal opportunity offense. It is not fair to say that the boys or the girls are the ones that are instigating the behavior,” said Prosecutor Eaton.

Many of them are high school students who now face child pornography charges, a level 6 felony.

“If someone is under 18 and there are inappropriate pictures of them that are sexual in nature…that is child porn. Then the charges get into whether it was sharing or producing,” said Prosecutor Eaton.

Prosecutor Eaton is now teaming up with local schools and police to educate teens on the serious consequences of sending or receiving a sexually explicit picture.

“Not only are there legal consequences that can occur from that behavior but also there are some social consequences too,” said Prosecutor Eaton.

Officials deliver their zero tolerance sexting policies to high school students around the county, letting them know that the decision to press send on Snapchat or iMessage may lead to jail time.

“All of us together in the community want people to make good decisions so they do not do things that they will regret later on,” said Prosecutor Eaton.

Right now, officials are teaming up with local high schools but may start going to junior high schools as well, because the problems with sexting are starting younger and younger each year.