COLUMBUS (WCMH) — This is the second year students at Sherwood Middle School in Columbus listened to a Franklin County prosecutor talk about crimes that could harm them or land them in jail.
Standing in an auditorium full of middle school students, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Zach Imwalle said, “we get a lot of cases down in juvenile court, last year alone we had over 5,000 juvenile delinquency cases.”
But he said these lessons in law are more than just about delinquency. Subjects like sexting, when someone takes, sends or shares naked pictures of themselves or other kids under 18-years-old. “Those are all types of sexting and those are illegal and a felony, those are the serious types of crimes we talked about,” Imwalle said.
Other crimes were discussed like human traffickers, whose favorite targets are preteens and teens, carrying a handgun and look-alike guns, bullying, and the increasing number of drug deaths in Franklin County and around the state.
School Counselor Taraja Shephard Allen said, “teens are risk-takers and this presentation is about the effects of sexting, but it also incorporates lessons about other crimes middle schoolers could find themselves involved in, if they are not warned at this stage.”
The idea is to make these middle school students aware of all of legal and personal dangers out there as a juvenile, and how those actions could affect the student up through 21 years of age.
“It is kind of hard because you have those students that really don’t listen, and try to be an outcast or do bad things, but I try to stay in my little tight circle,” said Tationa Baxter, a 14-year-old 8th grader.
“With social media I try to think about what I post before I post it to see if it is offensive to anyone before I post it,” Jahsemah Baron, a 13-year-old 8th grader said after the presentation.
Both girls said their parents talked with them about the dangers they face.
Shephard Allen said these lessons won’t stop here, there are mentors assigned to the school who are there with follow ups.
Imwelle shared statistics gathered by the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office that shows:
– 28 % of teens report having sent their own naked pictures.
– 68 % of female teens report being asked to send a sext
– 46 % of male teens report asking someone to send a sext