By KRUT-5 News Staff
SHAGGY BUTTE - When Dan Huhl borrowed his teen daughter's cellular phone to make a phone call to the girl's mother, he got much more than a friendly phone call. He got a shocking eyeful that still haunts him to this day.
"I accidentally tapped the texting thing instead of the phone thing," said Huhl. "I was pretty surprised by what I saw, to say the least."
What confronted this naive father's unsuspecting eyes was part of a teen epidemic that's been raging out of control as cell phone use spreads. Dan Huhl was face-to-face with a disgusting, explicit picture of a shocking sex act, sent to his daughter by a school friend.
"It was a man," Huhl told us, "and he had his hands on his genitals, and he was making an indecent gesture. It was terrible. I asked my daughter what it was, and she just laughed at me."
It's called sexmoticonning, and your teen could be next.
"Sextmoticons," our anonymous source within the KRUT-5 news organization tells us, "are graphic depictions of sex acts that teens send to each other for stimulation and amusement. They may seem shocking to us, but sexmoticonning is so common among teens that they don't even consider it a 'real' sexual act. To the virtual voluptuaries of the millennial generation, it's just not even a h*****b. It's not even at that level."
"It's an epidemic," he told KRUT-5 News. "And you can quote me on that."
Warning: the following image, captured from the telephone of an actual teen, shows real sexmoticons being passed around by real teens on the popular iPhone telephone service, created by Apple Computers and used widely by teens. This image may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
The Apple Computer corporation could not be reached for comment. Local mobile phone carrier Rockyou2it Mobile replied to our repeated inquiries with the following statement, via email: "We take teen safety very seriously. That's why, just in time for the holiday season, we're willing to offer a FREE name-brand smartphone with any two-year contract activation."
Parents just won't understand
When Dan Huhl's daughter wouldn't accept that the practice of sexmoticonning was dangerous, he decided to blow the story wide open. "First, I went to the parents of the boy who'd sent her the lewd images, and I sat them down and explained why this kind of thing is not OK," Dan Huhl told us. "They told me it was just kids messing around. My daughter was very embarrassed that I'd talked to them."
Gaining no traction with the parents of his daughter's abuser, he took the story public: for three days, he stood outside Shaggy Butte Senior High School wearing a neon-green sandwich board with the following message printed on both sides: "PLEASE DON'T SEND ANY MORE SEX PICTURES TO MY DAUGHTER, DEBORAH HUHL."
"It was the only way I could catch anyone's eye," Huhl said. "They school didn't like it. They told me to go home or they'd call the police. Also, my daughter was very embarrassed by this."
Law powerless against deadly teen threat
The worst part: the long arm of the law still isn't long enough to punish the perpetrators. "Essentially, these just look like teens telling off-color jokes," says Shaggy Butte DA Prince Rogers Nelson. "I don't think one could create a compelling case that this is indecent or dangerous."
Prince Rogers Nelson is up for reelection after this term. KRUT-5 has not given an endorsement in the race.
"I'm not sure how we would prosecute this, even if the material was indecent," Nelson said. "Do we prosecute one teen for sending this to another? Or prosecute a teen for possessing and viewing it? Legally, I can't think of a way it would make sense."
But tell that to Dan Huhl-- his daughter was so embarrassed by her father's shocking discovery that she attempted to run away from home-- and nearly died.
"She didn't get very far," said Huhl. "She didn't leave the house, but her exact words were something along the line of crawling under a rock, which sounds very dangerous."
Medical experts agree: the wages of Sexmoticonning may just be death. "If a person gets stuck under a rock, hypothetically, I guess the worst thing that could happen is that they'd be crushed, or possible pinned there. Conceivably, a person could die of thirst or exposure under that circumstance," says Dr. Rick Lamby of Shaggy Butte Family Practice. "I would not recommend that children play near loose rocks, if that's what you're asking."
"I think I'm going to have to take my daughter's phone away," Huhl told us. "I just can't be sure she won't be sextmoticonning again, and get stuck under a rock and die. It's a very real issue."
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