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Study: More middle school students 'sexting'

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – A newly released study shows more middle schoolers are "sexting".

According to the study found in the journal, "Pediatrics", one in five seventh graders have sent explicit messages or pictures via cell phone to others.

A detective with the Jonesboro Police Department said the ratio in Jonesboro is actually higher. Detective Ernest Ward said it is more like three in five middle schoolers are sexting.

"We see more than our share of it and I think it's just the population here and the city of Jonesboro, I think it's higher here than in neighboring cities," Ward said.

The department worked 14 sexting cases involving minors in 2013. Detective Ward said the number reflects a change in the times. 

"I think a lot of it's social status and the fact that kids these days get to do and do things alone a lot more than kids used to," Ward said.  

Detective Ward said the department has even worked several cases involving children younger than seventh grade.

To keep your child from becoming a part of this statistic, Detective Ward offered some tips as a parent himself.

"Number one key is know more about the device that you give your child than they know about it when you hand it to them," Ward said.

Detective Ward said depending on the phone company you have, there are different ways of restricting your child's phone usage.

"The days and times they can receive phone calls as well as text messages and who they can call," Ward said. "I'm gonna set it up to where I can get to the password."

Detective Ward also advised keeping a list of your child's contacts.

"I wanna know who they are. I see a new one come up, I wanna know who it is," Ward said.

Detective Ward said in the end, just be a hands-on parent. 

"It's not like you walk into a store, buy a phone and hand it to them. You go to the store, you buy them a phone, you play with it for a month," Ward said.

Detective Ward said the hands-off parents are the ones he sees most. 

"Those are usually the ones we have to visit with here and we do a lot of it," Ward said. 

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