Sexting citations issued in Stevens Point, more expected during school year
Since it was passed in mid-July, police have used Stevens Point's sexting ordinance to cite two individuals. The maximum fine for a violation is $187, including fees.
P.J. Jacobs Jr. High Police School Liaison Officer Joe Quisler proposed the ordinance to the city and told NewsChannel 7 he expects more violations and citations as the school year begins.
"We felt the city ordinance was necessary to have some halfway point between doing nothing and just talking to the kids and the parents, and criminal referrals," he said.
With the content in today's movies, television shows, and music videos, he said most kids do not realize sharing explicit material is harmful.
"With the access to the internet and all of the things that are out there, both good and bad, I think kids are kind of seeing this more and more as acceptable," explained Quisler.
Despite good grades, he went on to say sexting and sharing inappropriate content and photos could harm students' future college admissions and job prospects.
"That can cause a lot of problems with self esteem issues and those photos, once they're on the internet, they're there forever," warned Quisler. "We can't entirely get rid of them and when they're before the age of majority, it's considered child pornography."
The problem is by no means isolated at P.J. Jacobs. Other school liaison officers throughout the NewsChannel 7 viewing area said they see it as a major issue as well. In any case, P.J. Jacobs Principal Dan Dobratz said they are actually writing it into their curriculum, making online safe practices a priority. Quisler conducts classes to seventh and eighth grade students during their health classes discussing topics that could involved criminal contact with police.
"Sometimes they're a little impulsive, they make poor choices, but when you sit down and talk with them, they're amazing," encouraged Dobratz. "They come up with solutions of ways of solving it and I would say 99 percent of the time, the issue ends there."
Both Dobratz and Quisler urged parent involvement is key to educating students about the dangers or this problem. Quisler added in the ordinance, those that request, send, or take explicit photos, even through a third party, could be cited.