The dangers of social media, how one post or text can change everything

Local News

(WSYR-TV) — Social media posts from Port Byron students have been flagged by the FBI and New York State Police. The superintendent sent a newsletter to parents asking them to talk to their kids about sharing things online, like nude photos.

The newsletter said, in part:

“In the past several weeks, I have seen (or have been advised by law enforcement about) students posting images and words that are alarming and illegal. It is beyond eye-opening to have the FBI involved, but some of the items are exploitative, and will result in prosecution for the adults involved.”

-Neil O’Brien, Superintendent, Port Byron Central School District

When NewsChannel 9 reached out, the superintendent was not able to make any further comments on this particular case.

While the Child Advocacy Center in Onondaga County is not involved in the Port Byron investigation, the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office sees cases like this all the time.

The Chief of the Special Victims Unit and Senior Assistant District Attorney, Jarrett Woodfork, visits local schools to talk to kids about the dangers of social media.

When it comes to having the conversation about the topic with children, Woodfork said parents need to educate themselves on social media before having those conversations, to make sure what they’re doing is not spreading all over the internet.

“We’re seeing some of the kids taking photographs of themselves and sending it to their peers and then, it’s kind of spiraling out of control from there,” Woodfork said.

Woodfork said many teens think those pictures can only be seen by who they’re sending them to. But too often, those same photos are bought and sold online, and soon enough, could be in the hands of a child predator.

“Now it’s child pornography and the existence and the possession of those images are now tantamount to possessing a gun or drugs,” Woodfork said.

Having and taking those pictures is a felony and depending on the person’s age, it could mean jail time. Even without prosecution, that photo could follow that child for the rest of their life.

“That is a danger for you and your classmates and they’re getting in the hands of people that you don’t want,” Woodfork said.

The newsletter sent out by the Port Byron superintendent mentions some of the items are exploitative and will result in prosecution for the adults involved. 

For more local news, follow Julia LeBlanc on Twitter @JulialeblancNC9.

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