By Mary Robb Jackson
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Grove City has a population of slightly more than 8,000, but even in mostly rural areas, some children are growing up way too fast.
“We found that there was a young girl, 11 years of age, she was transmitting images of herself topless,” said Grove City Police Cpl. Mark Jaskowak.
A parent brought the “sexting” to the attention of police.
“A parent caught a glimpse of an image on a computer that arose his suspicions,” Jaskowak said.
The physically mature 11-year-old was identified and police called her parents.
“We did get good cooperation from the parents and they supplied us with the iPod that was being used,” Jaskowak said.
The device was sent to the State Police computer analysis lab. It was the youngest “sexting” case they’ve seen – both in pictures and online conversation.
“They were like adult conversations with sexual connotations,” Jaskowak said.
A pediatrician also had some insight into why someone so young would do that.
“Because kids have access to these social media, they’re more likely to do that,” said Dr. David Hefner.
Hefner says he thinks children do and say things on social media they normally wouldn’t do or say in person.
“The biggest thing parents can do to prevent this from happening is to be aware of what their kids are doing,” Hefner.
And parents need to decide when to discuss sexuality – Hefner says it might be as early as age 9.
“Sit down with your kids and here’s the birds and the bees talk, whether it makes them uncomfortable or not,” he said.
Police are continuing to investigate. They say the person who received the texts is older than the girl.
She is also being charged under the new sexting law — which makes it a summary offense.