Four juveniles were arrested last Tuesday at Candler County Sheriff’s Office following an investigation that has spanned several weeks. The investigation originated after a complaint was made about possible exploitation of children. 

“The complaint began when a student from the Candler County K-8 School Complex reported to school officials and law enforcement that possible explicit photographs were being sent around by students,” explained Sheriff’s Investigator Justin Wells. “During the investigation, a number of digital devices were seized and searched.

“Content was discovered on the devices during those searches that is considered a violation of Georgia law. After consulting with the District Attorney’s Office, charges are being filed in the case.”

The juveniles have been charged with Sexual Exploitation of Children. The case will be turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Middle Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. 

Both Wells and Superintendent Dr. Bubba Longgrear confirm that the photographs were not believed to have been taken at the school but that the case does involve school children.

“Yes, these are Metter Middle School students,” Longgrear confirmed. However, he added, “that is just one of their roles. These are children of this community, children of a church ... each one is someone’s child.”

Longgrear encouraged parents to be vigilant regarding their children’s cell phone use. “Cell phones are a great innovation, but they have negative attributes,” he said. “Parents should not hesitate to monitor their use.

“Most children from sixth grade and up have a phone, which gives them access to good information, but also to negative information.

“We need our parents to be vigilant in monitoring cell phone use and in protecting their children from harmful decisions.”

Longgrear also expressed his appreciation to Candler County Sheriff’s Office for partnering with the school system to help protect students. 

Sheriff John Miles echoed Longgrear’s comments regarding the vigilance of parents. 

“We encourage parents to have a conversation with their middle and high school age children about the dangers of using technology inappropriately. We also recommend that parents closely monitor their children’s electronic activities.”

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