Onslow County mother outraged after explicit photos sent using school approved website

Sebrana Daniels’ son DeLeon was sent an invitation to a chatroom used by his teacher to communicate with students learning remotely. Inside, dozens of people sending phone numbers, addresses and explicit photos.
Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 7:12 PM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - It’s become yet another pandemic problem: Students learning from home for hours on the computer with a required level of supervision practically impossible for any parent to achieve.

That’s the problem Sebrana Daniels ran into last week when she contacted WITN after a regular check-up of her son’s schoolwork, who’s learning from home, unearthed dozens of explicit text messages and photographs.

“The youngest child I saw on there was 11 years old,” said Daniels. “That shocked me.”

Her son DeLeon, 15, is learning remotely in the Onslow Virtual School. He was sent an invitation to a chatroom by a classmate on a website used by his teacher, and permitted by the district.

Inside, children, some as young as just nine-years-old, sending phone numbers, addresses and naked pictures.

“No one’s there to monitor,” said DeLeon. “Or, so they say they monitor everything we do.”

The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Daniels’ complaint, but it’s not clear to them at this time whether the photos are of minors or adults.

Either way, it’s a felony to send sexually explicit images of someone of any age to a minor. It’s a crime some in law enforcement say can be nearly impossible to investigate if the images are sent online.

“Parents need to be really engaged and really pay attention to what they’re doing,” said Col. Chris Thomas with the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office. “Because it’s really easy these days for inappropriate stuff like this to occur.”

That’s not enough for parents like Daniels who say it can be nearly impossible to monitor their child’s every click while they learn from their rooms.

“I am home when he is on the computer,” said Daniels. “I have a six-year-old sitting by me and so I’m dealing with two kids. I’m juggling. But then you’ve got the parents that are working that have children on the computer and they don’t know what their kids are doing.”

It was an issue anticipated by district administrators when students turned to online learning last year. They attempted to block the obvious websites ahead of time, but school district officials say it’s too easy for students to simply find another website to use inappropriately.

“Things like pornography are at the top of the list of websites that would be blocked. Things like alcohol, tobacco, and weapons are in that list as well,” said Onslow Schools Spokesperson Brent Anderson. “With people working and kids at home doing remote learning, it’s going to be a challenge sometimes for parents to be on top of it 24/7.”

Daniels’ son was removed from the website after she complained to the district, according to Daniels. But, it’s not clear if that means the entire class was moved off of it.

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