VANDALIA — Vandalia-Butler School officials and police are investigating at least four possible cases of sexting involving students at Butler High School.
Superintendent Rob O’Leary said that since a case was originally reported to police a week ago, further investigation by school administrators have uncovered three additional sexting incidents. Two of those incidents have been referred to police for possible criminal investigation. A third case is still being investigated.
“When we became aware of the situation, we immediately started an investigation and our administration called Vandalia Police Department early on in the investigation,” said O’Leary. “From a process standpoint, when there are allegations of serious offenses that appear to be criminal in nature, as part of our investigation process, we call the police.”
All of the new cases have come to light after a sexting case involving a student living in Union was made public on Friday.
That case came under investigation after the a guidance counselor at Butler contacted the parents of a juvenile female who allegedly sent inappropriate photos to another student at the school.
The girl’s father contacted Union Police who investigated and will be charging the female with disseminating harmful matter, a fifth degree felony.
The girl’s father asked police to charge the males who asked for the photo and allegedly shared it with other students but was advised he would have to contact police in Vandalia for that to be investigated.
Vandalia Police Lt. Kurt Althouse said their department will investigate whether any offenses occurred in Vandalia.
O’Leary said that sexting is a real challenge as students have access to smartphones, tablets, and social media. The district has had several presentations by a Montgomery County Sheriff Resource Officer about the dangers and consequences of sexting, bullying, and other types of inappropriate activity on digital devices and social media. He said those efforts will increase.
“Currently, staff is discussing educational opportunities for parents and students on the dangers in today’s age of digital/social media,” said O’Leary. “Unfortunately, this occurred first. However, hopefully it will bring the problem to light and we can work together as a community – parents, schools, churches, police, etc., to help solve the problem. This is a huge issue of our time in which I fear we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.