Workshop in Exeter Township educates parents on growing threat of sexting and sextortion

In response to the growing prevalence of sexting and sextortion within the community, the Exeter Township School District, in collaboration with the Exeter Township Police Department, conducted a parent workshop aimed to help parents understand the dangers of the practice.

Detective Sergeant Rocco DeCamillo of the Exeter Township Police Department revealed the trends in the township and across the country, emphasizing the increasing incidence of sexting not only among high school students but also at the junior high and preteen levels.

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The workshop, held Tuesday evening at the Exeter Township Senior High School’s Large Group Instruction Room, sought to equip parents with the knowledge and tools to safeguard their children from falling victim to these online threats.

Mrs. Alycia Lenart, the Exeter Township School District’s K-12 Student Support Coordinator, and Detective Sergeant Rocco DeCamillo led the presentation. The informative session covered the definitions of sexting and sextortion, shedding light on the disturbing practice of sending sexually-explicit content and the rise of cyber blackmail targeting minors.

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During the workshop, attendees gained insights into the methods perpetrators employ to lure and communicate with minors on various apps and platforms. Detective Sergeant DeCamillo urged parents to take an active role in monitoring their children’s online activities, emphasizing the importance of proactive measures to ensure their safety.

These issues, says DeCamillo, are ones that affect adults–as well as minors, too. “You might think of this as a high school problem, but we’re seeing sexting more frequently at the junior high level,” he said. “But what’s even scarier is that we’re starting to see it more frequently in preteens, too, which is scary. The victims–and their offenders–are becoming younger.”

Being candid with the group, DeCamillo said he doesn’t have the answer on how to stop it completely, but offered parents a few ways to help prevent it. “For us as detectives early intervention with these investigations is key. Don’t send money, stop communication, don’t try and engage with the bad person on the other end. Reported it to the police immediately so we can start to shut it down.”

Most importantly, DeCamillo recommends monitoring your children’s online activity the best that you can. “It’s not the easiest thing to do, especially as they get older. It’s harder because they become more independent, but still important.”

Highlighting the collaborative effort between the school district and law enforcement, the workshop also addressed the support mechanisms available for children who have been victims of sexting or sextortion. This initiative builds upon a previous workshop conducted for teachers during a professional development session in November, showcasing the commitment of Exeter Township to tackle these challenges head-on.

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Jason Hugg
Jason Hugg
Editor and photographer at Berks Weekly.
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