Members of a multi-agency task force called Internet Crimes Against Children are volunteering their time to talk to parents about protecting their kids and teens from sextortion, cyber bullying and sexting.
The men, who are also IMPD detectives, have offered to visit schools in Marion County and surrounding counties for the informational sessions.
“There is cause for concern,” said Jerry Stayton, Heritage Christian School Secondary Principal.”Rather than always reacting, it makes sense to have a proactive step.”
Heritage Christian will hold its parent night next Monday. Hundreds of parents are expected to attend.
“We all know the ‘don’t do drugs’ speech and the alcohol speech because we have all heard those for years, but who would have ever thought we’re going to be telling our kids, ‘don’t take nude photos of yourself, and send them over the Internet,'” said IMPD Detective Kurt Spivey.
Spivey said there are adults who are preying on kids and teens online, and often, they become difficult sextortion cases with longtime consequences.
The other complicating issue, as described by Spivey, is some suspects that the ICAC task force is investigating are juveniles. A recent sexting case at Avon High School got legal attention.
Students were reportedly trading images of underage girls like baseball cards which is considered child pornography.
It is material that can also lead to multiple felony charges and a sex offender status.
Spivey said other states are pursuing charges against juveniles in similar cases, and the discussion has come in Indiana.
“We’ve had a cyber bullying case in one of the schools where someone sent pornography to every student in the school over the school-based internet system,” said Spivey, about another type of case they are continuing to see.
He continued.”I think we have a responsibility to go the educational route, try to get it out there, and head it off as much as possible.”
“The scary part is when kids and parents feel like, well, this is private and no one will know. The reality is, it’s very public, and everybody can know,
and that’s what makes it very dangerous,” said Stayton.
A handful of schools have already reached out to the ICAC members who may also consider sharing their presentation in hopes of reaching even more parents.