Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said Tuesday he hopes parents can use the investigation into sexting at a Batavia middle school as an opportunity to teach their children about responsible social media usage. And that teaching should come sooner than later.
Batavia police announced Monday there would be no criminal charges filed after discovering six to seven students from Rotolo Middle School took nude photos of themselves and sent them to other students.
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McMahon said parents should talk to their kids as soon as they're allowed to have cellphones.
"The message is the same," he said. "It's about responsibility. It's about thinking about long-term consequences.
"The key is they're talking to their children about responsible use of social media," he added. "It's harder at age 16 and 17 to talk to your kids than it is when they're 11 or 12, The key is to talk to them about the dangers, the permanency and (that) not everybody out there has good intentions."
McMahon said prosecutors worked closely with Batavia police on the case, taking into account each student's previous contact with authorities, parental involvement and police input as well.
"There was full support, full support between the Batavia Police Department and this office on that decision. That's no different from any other case that comes into this office," he said.
And as a result of that decision, McMahon said, "We'll use this as an opportunity to teach kids and try and keep them out of the criminal justice system and in school where they should be."
Had McMahon pressed criminal charges, it would have been handled in juvenile court; such proceedings are not part of a student's permanent record.
"The goal in juvenile court is restorative and rehabilitative but that's not the only way to achieve these goals," he said.