Prosecutor lectures students on dangers of sexting

Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton looks up a criminal statue in an undated photo. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

GREENFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Hancock County schools are teaching kids about the potential legal consequences of sexting. And the county prosecutor is delivering the message.

Prosecutor Brent Eaton is giving presentations on the topic at local schools.

He said he wanted to educate students on the topic after an investigation that started last spring. Detectives caught about 25 middle and high school students with inappropriate images of underage classmates.

“That’s child pornography,” Eaton said. “That’s something you can be prosecuted for and it can become very serious.”

In his presentations, Eaton is warning students that it’s illegal to send or receive sexts of themselves or anyone else. A sext is a sexually-explicit image sent through text or social media.

He said probation officers called the students into their offices in the spring to discuss the sexting allegations.

“It really was kind of like pulling a string on a sweater,” Eaton said. “You begin to unravel it and become aware that it’s a little bit more of a problem than we anticipated.”

Eaton did not file charges, but he said his office has charged minors with child pornography possession in unrelated sexting cases over the past six months.

Christina Hilton, assistant superintendent of Greenfield’s primary school corporation, said the district will invite Eaton back annually.

Hilton, who is also a mother of two high schoolers, said students in the district are well-informed but at times they need to hear the same message more than once.

“They’re teenagers, so they’re not necessarily thinking about their future,” Hilton said.

Eaton plans to visit schools in New Palestine and Eastern Hancock County this semester.

His presentations are a part of an Anderson-based group called Alternatives. The group goes to schools and talks to students about domestic violence, dating and consent.