In December 2010, the District Attorney’s Office began doing PowerPoint presentations on the dangers and consequences of sexting to high schools, charter schools and technical schools in Lehigh County. The presentations by a Senior Deputy District Attorney discuss “sexting,” which refers to the sending of photographs and images of children or teens that are inappropriate via cell phones and other devices. The presentations address current Pennsylvania law, cases in the national news and what students should be aware of in their electronic interactions with others.
Sexting is a persistent problem among teens, who often do not realize that their actions can have long-term ramifications. Teens don’t realize that if they send photographs to others, they lose control over what happens to those photographs, resulting in embarrassment, school disciplinary actions, criminal prosecutions and, in the worst cases, suicides when photographs or videos that were thought to be private are circulated.
In 2013, the presentations were expanded to include middle-school students. Currently, the presentations are given to students from grades six through twelve.
More than 50 presentations have been done, including a bilingual presentation in Spanish and English for about 100 students from all over the world who attended the Allentown School District Newcomer Academy. Presentations also were done for school administrators, a Boy Scouts Explorer program, juveniles, on probation, who attended the Evening Reporting Center in Allentown, and the East Stroudsburg University Upward Bound Program, which included Lehigh County students.
The presentations, which have been well received by students, teachers and school administrators, were used by an Ontario, Canada police department as a model for its own presentations. Police in Nevada, South Dakota and New York City contacted the District Attorney's Office for guidance in starting their own programs to warn teens about the dangers of sexting
School administrators and school resource officers who want to schedule a sexting presentation in their schools can call 610-782-3230.