Morgan County warning students to stop ‘sexting’ or face charges

MORGAN COUNTY, Utah -- Morgan County School District is like any other, maybe a little smaller, but it has the same big problems other districts do with students sexting.

In Morgan High School, it has become quite the distraction.

"In one of our class hours, they sat us down and just talked about it," said 16-year-old sophomore Landon Fackrell.

Morgan County Sheriff Deputy Gary Dudley is also a school resource officer. He said teachers and administrators brought the issue to his attention. He thought it best to get the Sheriff's Office involved, to help teach everyone about legal ramifications.

"We're looking out for the safety of the students," he said. "We would like them to feel like they can come to us and report this."

He said feedback has mostly been positive, with the exception of some folks who he said have accusingly called it a "witch hunt." Dudley said this is not the case, and they are not out to prosecute 14-year-olds and stamp a felony on their record.

Rather, they are trying to teach students of the dangers of sexting, which Dudley said is a form of bullying and sexual harassment. He said it is also meant to encourage parents to talk to their kids.

"We probably never had a discussion with them of, 'What do you do when you receive a Snapchat asking for nude photographs of yourself?'"

Dudley said his own teenage daughters have had concerns about the topic, saying friends have been victims. He said this makes it additionally distracting in school because the offenders are not anonymous. The victims know who is soliciting or sending nude photos, and then they have to see that person in class or in the hallways.

Dudley added that many seniors just turned 18, and the repercussions could be even greater for them now they are legally considered adults. Another issue is when students receive these photos; they may be victims, but the photos can be stored on their phones. If someone were to see those photos in their phone and the incident had not previously been reported, Dudley said this could be incriminating for the victim.

In some cases, the victim could be considered in possession of child pornography. Dudley said this is another reason to report it as soon as you receive on of these photos.

Superintendent Dr. Doug Jacobs sent FOX 13 News this statement:

"Sexting is not allowed nor tolerated in the Morgan School District. Administrators at Morgan High School are investigating all reports of inappropriate and illegal conduct. We appreciate the support of the Morgan Sheriff’s Department in educating our parents and community members about the consequences of sexting. We want to be proactive and use these reports as a way to educate all of our students, employees, and parents about the dangers sexting can pose."