Floyd County investigators say 'sexting' is the new normal they're trying to change


FLOYD COUNTY (WSLS10) - Nearly, 700 students filed into the Floyd County High School auditorium for a chat with law enforcement. The Floyd County Sheriff's Office, Christiansburg Internet Crimes Against Children Unit (ICAC), and Safe Surfin' teamed up to talk about online dangers.

Law enforcement officials want students to take away the message that they need to protect their personal identities online by limiting the amount of information shared and who they accept as friends. Now, inspectors say they're dealing with a more threatening issue than cyber bullying that's tapping into social media.

"Just from a show of hands who's using Facebook?" asked Investigator Moe McClanahan, a member of the Christiansburg ICAC Unit.

It's a serious message local law enforcement is trying to push out to people 18 and under.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the main platforms used for bullying.

"People will say mean stuff that other people in school knew was about them and they'll post it on there," said senior Alexis Reed. "Other people will like it, retweet it or share it."

However, the greater danger is self-victimization, also known as 'sexting' which is sending inappropriate pictures. Reed told us she's seen it happen. She's watched a friend suffer the consequences after sending a naked photo.

"It was rough for her at first," said Reed. She didn't know how to take it. And, she didn't go to school for a little bit, but she's back in school now."

The Christiansburg Police Department said it's dealing with more of self-victimization cases than cyber bullying. On average, they work 12 plus cases a year.

"Once that pictures is out there, that they can't get it back and we can't control who gets it, where it goes, or how long it's going to be seen." Said McClanahan.

It's why investigator McClanahan wants to educate the community's youth. She finds many are unaware it's illegal and you can go to jail. Unfortunately, McClanahan adds this is almost a new normal, because kids are more exposed to nudity. It's a "normal" they are trying to change.

"It can cost you," said Reed. "In the long run it's definitely not worth it."

The Christiansburg Police Department added it does not tolerate self-victimization as it falls under child pornography. Minors who are caught sending inappropriate photos are typically first given a warning, but the second offense could mean jail time.