Administrators talk sexting with parents after scandal

- The principal of Lake Placid Middle School held a meeting Monday with more than 200 parents, teachers and students to discuss a sexting scandal that rocked his school.

Earlier this month, the Highlands County Sheriff's Office began investigating several instances in which several students, between 12 and 14 years old, were sending nude selfies to one another; one person even made graphic video.

"We're at 20 girls who have sent some sort of a racy photo," said Principal Chris Doty.

Doty said boys and girls are responsible for sharing the images; some even posted them on social media as a way to bully some of the students involved.

Last week, Sheriff Susan Benton said prosecutors are determining whether to file criminal charges, which could include child pornography charges.

The scandal shocked parents.

"It's very upsetting," said Neil Watson, the father of a Lake Placid Middle student. "It's not my child [involved in the scandal], but I have a daughter and it could have been my daughter and I'm like devastated."

During the meeting Monday night, Principal Doty told parents they need to make sure they and their kids learn a valuable lesson from this.

"I think if we don't start educating parents and educating kids, we're going to have kids that are eventually going to get tried and convicted of child pronography if we don't start taking a stand and doing what's right," he said.

Doty added students need to understand that sexting is illegal and, even if they think a picture is deleted, it's almost impossible to fully delete electronic images, especially those that have been shared on social media.

Some parents said hey have already taken action.

"It really made me become more aware to check the technology at home," said Willie Hills, a principal at a nearby elementary school whose daughter goes to Lake Placid Middle. "Now we have a new policy in the house where Daddy gets the phone every afternoon. I want to see what's on there."

"It starts from home," Watson added. "If we can take care of those problems at home, then we won't have the problems ever."

The Deputy Superintendent of Highlands County Schools has said some of the students could face expulsion.

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