I just read an interesting article covering a topic that is frequently brought to our attention when we speak at conferences – cell phones and sexually-explicit images of teenagers being circulated among peers. The bottom line is that we have got to figure out the best way to get kids to think hard and seriously about the implications of content they create or post or send getting into the wrong hands. It is largely inevitable, but youth naively assume that it will stay private and protected by a small, intended audience. The image started out “as a summertime joke between the ninth-grader and her friends.” How many of us have taken a picture of ourselves naked – even as a joke? Wait, don’t answer that. In keeping with my previous post – this picture could be tagged (with her name? with her contact information?) and shared on one of the numerous photo-sharing and photo-gallery web sites out there, and she would suffer the rest of her life from the humiliation. Let’s hope law enforcement are able to confiscate every device on which this picture is found, and scrub those flash memory cards and hard drives minty clean. And let’s try to remind everyone that possession and transmission of this sort of stuff is usually a Class I felony across the United States.
Now don’t get me wrong, child pornography is 100 percent unacceptable. However, there are 10 students being suspended and 20 students total disciplined. I have gotten questionable texts/pics/flicks, mind you it was not child porn, which I didn’t ask for, nor want for that matter. Where some of these students should be made an example of, what about our innocents ‘till proven otherwise. In re Winship, the Supreme Court upheld the standard of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt for juveniles. If someone drops a murder weapon in your trash can, then should you be punished? Where do we draw the line?
Yes, this is horrible/unfortunate for the victim…who sent the picture of herself to four different people?? Parenting, I want parenting. They should share this burden of punishment with the students as far as I am concerned. To think that there are students who got this pic dropped into their cell inbox and were not trying to “peer pressure” the victim into sending inappropriate pics, which are going to be punished is wrong. Understanding child pornography is illegal and should be, but what if they deleted it after they saw what the text was? Or that day? Or the next? Where is the line drawn?
Sexting has become a major issue in todays schools and society. Growing up in the 90s and having my very first cell phone in 2002 sexting was never heard of. Now with the enhancement of technology and the creation of todays "smartphones" sexting seems to be the norm. As normal as it is for some to send their friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc naked pictures, sexting has become a crime. Young teens are getting arrested for posting pictures and even receiving pictures from others. The problem is not only with the pictures but the lack of knowledge that these teens have regarding the consquences of sexting. I read an article that talked about a 16-year-old boy who is now facing up to seven years in prison for forwarding a nude photo of a 15 year old girl to his friends. Reading this article and many articles on sexting really sadden me that these teens would ruin their lives by forwarding pictures. I think todays teens and kids need to be educated on the risk they are putting themselves in by doing something as simple as forwarding pictures on their cell phones.