BEDFORD (WSLS 10) - As online sex-related crime against children continues to grow, the number of sexting cases involving kids and child predators is also increasing.
The Bedford County Sheriff's Office is working to raise awareness about the issue in schools.
In a world where most children now have smart phones in hand, Sheriff Mike Brown is warning parents about what their kids could not only be receiving, but sending.
Brown said children sexting is more common than parents think.
"Every state in the union has this problem," Brown said.
And local schools aren't exempt.
Brown said each school year, Bedford averaged a little more than a dozen sexting cases of children starting at age 9 and up, sending nude photographs of themselves to one another.
"One is too many, especially when the potential is there for a sextortion case," Brown said.
Sextortion is when those nude or sexually explicit photos or videos are used as blackmail, held hostage for money or worse.
"They will ask them to meet them, one they have threatened them with the video to posting it to social media and showing it to their parents. They say okay, now you have to meet me at such and such location. It's downhill from there," Brown said.
And it's happening to children. The department is working a case now.
"It involves a minor who was convinced he was sending, being requested to send nude photos of himself to another minor, when in fact he was sending them to an adult male," Brown said.
To prevent more cases like this one, Brown is pushing the state as well as Bedford County Schools to start showing children a presentation about the dangers of sexting and what or who it can lead to.
A problem Brown says parent's shouldn't dismiss.
"For a parent to say that my child would never, don't say that. In fact, we've had several parents say, 'I can't believe my child did this.' Well, here are the images, believe it," Brown said.
View a PSA on Sextortion: https://youtu.be/eK1zo6kXPFU
View another PSA on Sextortion: https://staysafeonline.org/ncsam/