Parents of teens got a scared straight experience at a packed information forum held Wednesday night at Chino Hills High.
Drugs trends and “sexting” were among topics discussed with presentations given by Chino Valley school resource officers.
Sexting is defined as teens sending or forwarding sexually explicit photographs or videos from their cell phone.
Chino Police Officer John Cervantes said in most situations girls are texting explicit self-images to their boyfriends.
The boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend, can then forward the image to his friends.
The original sender feels embarrassed and may also be bullied and ostracized by peers.
In certain circumstances, participants on all sides may also face legal consequences because California law does not distinguish sexting and child pornography.
It is a crime to knowingly send, transport, produce, possess or duplicate any child pornography, with intent to distribute it, Officer Cervantes said.
He added the law applies to minors engaging in sexual acts or displaying private parts for sexual stimulation.
“Everyone who sends or receives it could be convicted of a felony,” he said.
Minors could be arrested, and if convicted, sent to juvenile hall.
Most parents in attendance were unaware that child pornography laws apply to minors as well as adults.
“Kids don’t need privacy; check their phone,” Officer Cervantes said. “If you pay the cell phone bill, it’s your phone.”
Besides phones, parents were also urged to check backpacks, cars and bedrooms for drugs, alcohol, tobacco and e-cigarette paraphernalia, which were on display at the forum.
Parents must also keep track of alcohol and prescription drugs in the home and prevent access to them. Prescription drugs are commonly misused.
The website drugs.com can identify unlabeled pills.
Drugfree.org was also suggested as a resource for parents. School nurse Jenny Mott, working at the information table, said marijuana slows down the developing brain and is more likely to cause a psychological addiction than a physiological addiction. Officer Dustin Kato said changes in marijuana laws have made the drug more acceptable and accessible to teens.
Brownies, cookies, and baked goods made with marijuana extract are sold at medical marijuana dispensaries to people 21 years of age or older.
A form of marijuana called “earwax,” named for its appearance, is gaining popularity. It is cultivated by extracting the THC solvent from the marijuana plant.
The highly concentrated oil can be ingested orally or inhaled through smoking or vaporization.
Mrs. Mott teaches tobacco use prevention, starting with sixth grade students in the Chino Valley school district through a grant-funded project. She said vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes, is overlooked in the tobacco curriculum because of its relative newness.
She said studies are just starting to come out on the long-term effects of vaping.
Many parents don’t see it as being dangerous to their children, she added, but “it’s not an innocuous type of drug.”
Vaping materials are sold in many stores to adults 21 years or older.
Curfew is 10 p.m. every night in Chino, Chino Hills and Ontario and violators are subject to receiving a $500 fine.
Community members can report crimes, bullying, drugs or graffiti to their local police, or anonymously through a national hot line, (800) 78-CRIME (782-7463).
The San Bernardino County crisis response team will provide mental health assessments and on-site crisis intervention to people of any age who are experiencing homicidal or suicidal thoughts. Daytime number is 458-1517. For after hours, use 535-1316, which is a pager number.
Teams are available to respond 24-hours a day, 365-days a year.