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School sexting scandal could be wake-up call

Posted at 5:20 PM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 18:40:07-05

The sexting scandal that rocked a Highlands County middle school could lead to criminal charges and students getting kicked out of school.

As many as nine students at Lake Placid Middle School may have been involved in sharing sexually explicit pictures and videos of themselves with other students, investigators said.

MORE | Middle schoolers investigated for child porn after naked selfie pics and video surface

Clinical Pyschologist Dr. Berney Wilkinson said he hopes this is a wake up call for all parents and students.

"We're seeing more and more extreme sexualized behavior in younger and younger individuals," he said.

In his experience, there's a clear reason for why it's happening.

"(Kids) just never learn where boundaries are between what is ok to talk about and what is not ok to talk about," Wilkinson said.

In the case at Lake Placid Middle School, investigators say at least nine students -- possibly several more -- sent around nude pictures and videos.

Some of the content was so graphic, the Highlands County Special Victims Unit is involved, analyzing the phones.

The deputy superintendent for the district refused an on camera interview with ABC Action News, but told us the sexting was so over the top that some of the students involved will be recommended for expulsion.

This is not the first time the school has found itself in the spotlight. Just last month, parents protested -- and the school board acknowledged -- the sex education class at Lake Placid Middle was too racy.

The school has since toned it down, but Wilkinson said that kind of course might be what the students need.

"What we really need to do is sort of take this opportunity and provide some education," Wilkinson said.

He thinks many parents aren't being proactive enough, explicitly talking about the difference between being flirtatious and pornographic.

He recommends "the talk" may be appropriate for a child as young as 10 years old, or when the child is developmentally ready.

"Parents try to hold on to the idea of sheltering and protecting their kids for as long as they can, so some of these things they just resist talking to them about," Wilkinson said.

The school will hold an emergency meeting Monday night to discuss the sexting issue.