Former teacher sentenced for attempt to commit child enticement - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Former teacher sentenced for attempt to commit child enticement

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A former Colquitt County teacher was sentenced to seven years probation today and fined $3,500 after sending a 14 year old student inappropriate messages two years ago.

Stephen Warnock pleaded no contest to charges of criminal attempt to commit child enticement. The student's mother found the messages from Warnock, her daughter's former teacher and requested the investigation.

Stephen Warnock was ordered not to have contact with anyone under age 18, except his own children. Child Psychologists say if you haven't talked with your child about what's appropriate or inappropriate to receive on their social networking sites or cell phone you should.

The messages sent between former Colquitt County Teacher Stephen Warnock and a former 14 year old student in 2007 were described as graphic and inappropriate. Charged with criminal attempt to commit child enticement, Warnock was sentenced to seven years probation under the first offender law and given 200 hours of community service. We asked a child psychologist why cases of sexting are increasing?

"People get the idea that they can get away with things," said Dr. Nick Carden, a child psychologist.

District Attorneys say it's a hard lesson especially for teens because what they think may be a message between two people is often shared in cyberspace or across phone lines easily.

"Everything you put on the internet is given completely to the world, I mean you can't take it back," said Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards.

Psychologists say texting that's turned into sexting, isn't so different from teens sneaking off to park 30 years ago, but the issue is causing society to take a look at a new moral issue.

"It's almost, there's no morality. And so I think we're having to go through in our society now sort of a relook at how do we define morality in the context of all the technology we have," said Carden.

In 2007 the Georgia Legislature adopted the Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act that lays out the charges for those who might send or receive sexually explicit images.

"There are adequate consequences for the offender based on the law," said Edwards.

Now the Governor's office is taking it a step further, releasing a pamphlet to local District Attorneys so they can make teens aware that taking inappropriate pictures and sending them to their friends can be a serious crime.

District Attorney Greg Edwards said locally he plans to make these pamphlets available to high schools and middle schools in the area. They'll also be available at his office for parents or teens who want more information.  For more information you can log onto the Governor's Office for Children and families at www.children.ga.gov

Special conditions of Stephen Warnock's sentence prohibit him from applying for his teaching certificate for the seven years he remains on probation. He also faces computer use restrictions.

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