Open Letter To Community by Sheriff Jon Hayden

We must remain diligent in continuing the conversation with our teenage children. This is an ongoing and recurring issue.

April 3, 2019

(Note: I posted this a few years ago as we were experiencing a lot of these issues in McCracken County. I can tell you that this problem exists right here in Graves County also, as well as every county in Kentucky and beyond.)

To Parents of Teenage Children:

I want to give a quick reminder to parents, grandparents, or any other persons raising a pre-teen or teen in our digital world. Please take some time to explain to your child how much grief sending an inappropriate picture to someone can cause.

Police agencies across the U.S. are dealing with heartbroken mothers, fathers, and others over these incidents. Some teens, otherwise law-abiding and well-behaved, are texting photos to their boyfriend or girlfriend wearing little or no clothing. They do this because they are positive they are in love and positive they can trust the recipient. Often, neither turns out to be true. This has happened right here in Graves County, more than once.

In Kentucky and many other states, when a teen sends another a nude photo, it is considered disseminating child pornography. Possessing that picture on your phone is a felony. Often, the teens are not charged, but in some jurisdictions they are. These charges usually come from the boyfriend sending the picture to a bunch of his friends and word getting out. When twenty teenage boys have a nude picture of your teenage daughter on their phone or computer, it will be embarrassing and very hurtful to all parties. It is also likely the picture could end up with people you do not even know.

Take some time to speak with your child and make sure they know and understand the repercussions of sending some pictures and texts. Tell them that true love would never make such a demand, and explain to them the potential legal and social issues that accompany such behavior.

Parents that we have had to notify of such behavior by their teens have been, each and every time, devastated.