Sexting, the Jesse Logan case, and what schools can do


Recently, we’ve received calls and inquiries about “sexting” and the Jesse Logan case, and so I thought we’d discuss the matter here.  For those looking for an official definition, we characterize “sexting” as “the sending or receiving of sexually-suggestive or explicit text or pictures via one’s cell phone.”  Anecdotally, it seems that the phenomenon is growing in frequency and prevalence, and has garnered a significant amount of attention in the last month due to the publicizing of Jesse Logan’s suicide in July 2008.  In that tragic situation, the 18-year-old girl took her life after an ex-boyfriend circulated nude pictures of her to a large number of their high school peers.  What is interesting is that Jessie contacted the media after the incident about the harassment, but nothing substantive was done in response by any authority figures.  Two months later, she committed suicide after suffering scholastically and relationally on account of the humiliation and abuse she received from classmates.  Eight months later, we are seeing more cases of law enforcement and district attorneys coming down hard (with child pornography convictions) on youth or young adult males who circulate pictures of their underage girlfriends (or ex-girlfriends), and some would argue these convictions are overkill, outside of the original intentions of legislators who formulated the laws, and a double standard that unfairly punishes minors for what adults sometimes do with impunity.  Others believe that such strict interpretation of the law (where it is a felony to take, send or keep any sexually-explicit image of a minor) is necessary in order to prevent tragedies like the Jesse Logan case.

I talked to a school administrator today who underscored how big of an issue this was in their district, gave some suggestions as to what could be done – and when schools could step in and confiscate and search cell phones of students for evidence.  We believe schools (and parents) should at this point emphatically stress to youth that sending, receiving, or storing sexually-suggestive pictures on their phones is extremely risky and could lead to criminal prosecution.  They should also underscore the importance of never taking and sending these types of pictures of themselves to anyone – even those they trust – because of the ease with which they can be forwarded or shared with others (friends, acquaintances, and strangers).  Finally, educators should remind youth that they will work closely with law enforcement should this behavior occur among the student body.  Teens must realize beyond a shadow of a doubt that the act is not worth the pain, humiliation, and penalties that will likely result.

With regard to hard empirical data, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and recently conducted a survey of over 1200 youth which found that 22% of girls and 18% of boys have electronically sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves.   We are currently studying the phenomenon and will share our findings as soon as possible.  I’d be interested to hear what you have experienced in your district or within your organization, and how you’ve responded.  Justin and I will chime in to follow up as well.


  1. Is it blind trust or inadequate parenting? When I was given new technology that my parents did not know a lot about, they took the initiative to learn about it first. When I received a computer and they watched over my shoulder. I got a phone and my parents asked who I talked to. I got a car and they asked where I was going, and where I was. Is blind trust the problem, or can we also chalk this one under the parenting category? Seems sometime kids need a parent, not a friend…

  2. I cant believe such a terrrible thing would happen to such a young girl…how dare a boy discriminate a girl like that…..why didnt anybody do anything about thids ridiculous accident!!

  3. Sadly, these things do happen. It still isn't defined as to who is to blame for the whole reason why cyberbullying occurs like this these days. As a student researching the epidemic, I have read in an article about the Jesse Logan case on that although boys do discriminate a girl like that, Logan is also at blame. She shouldn't have sent messages like that in the first place, plain and simple. However, "teenage stupidity" or whatever it is causes teenagers to act in this way, and so what was just a simple act becomes a horrible incident that spiraled out of control. The purpose of life is to learn from our mistakes, and Logan understood that when she advocated towards making teens aware of the manipulative potentials that can be found in sexting. Its tragic, yes, but evidently she had a part in it all.

  4. It is my personal idea that parents can only do so much before they begin damaging their children. Honestly, if my child ever became a terrorizing kid, I'd put him up for adoption. Also, though, it is partly her fault for being in that situation. Should she have taken her life because of it? Hell no. HELL no. Giving up a life was not worth it. Can anyone dispute her decision to kill herself? No. While we may view her decision as selfish, or stupid or whatever negative spin you want to put on it. It was ultimately her decision. She actually could have avoided all of it in the first place, if she hadn't allowed a photo like that to be taken. If she didn't know it was taken, that's different. Then, her boyfriend was a–insert obscene adjective here–end of story. And I don't think she should have killed herself, but if she suffered so much and felt that it was the only way to get out of it, I respect that. Freedom is what this country strives and she exercised freedom in its purest rawest form. Rest in Peace and may your aggressors find themselves the target of aggression.

  5. I do not believe Logan sent those pictures to try to persuade her ex-boyfriend to like her more..but that her "ex" must have planned something..and perr pressured Jesse to send such repulsive pictures to his phone.But her "ex" did have the choice to not do anything and just erase them maybe some Logan would've have killed herself..such a youg child"s life tooken away like that by stupid boys trying to prove that they are something to thier friends.I to have been through something like that..and the best advice is to coop with what you did and face the music "killing yourself is no way to treat your problems.In fact it makes more!! I am on no one's side but I just think the :ex" had a choice to erase the pictures and he chose to be a complete butt-head and embarass a youg girl like that….like dandelion says it's "teenage stupidity that leads to the accidents.

  6. Absolutely tragic. I fear for this generation of young people who seem to have no concept of the consequences of their actions, and who think everything is a big joke that shouldn’t be taken seriously (until they find themselves the victim). We’ve worked so hard for years to empower our youth, empower young women. But in today’s society, with the communication tools and poor attitudes, one can only imagine the abject feeling of powerlessness that Jesse Logan and other victims have experienced. This raises so many issues (social responsiblity, peer pressure, personal responsiblity, respect for oneself, parental supervision of young teens). Schools have to stop hiding behind budgetary excuses for not doing more to address these issues that permeate the atmosphere at school. They need to partner with community non-proftis that focus on domestic violence, bullying, etc. to consistently speak out about the issues (starting at very early ages). And the message has to be drilled into the kids that what they share is available to everyone. And of course there’s parental responsibility…..

  7. As a step-father of a 15 year old that just got caught, I disagree with the "teenage stupidity the leads to the accidents" statement. I say that it is the Superman syndrome that young people have had for ever generation after generation. No matter what I do I will be fine. Well that generally was fine in simple, local thinking, times, but now in our global, technologically fueled times things have definitely have honed in on the naive young people. Our technology is growing exponentially quicker than the average parent can keep up with and the youth of this generation has way more time and energy to figure it out. I feel bad and pray for the family of this young lady that took her life and feel that something could and should have been done that could have possibly kept her from taking her life. Unfortunately, we fine things out to late or over look the signs that are right in front of us to help. I am having trouble getting help from my wireless carrier to change small things that can help me to rain in my daughters phone use but I am not going to give up.

  8. I am a parent of a 13 year old girl who goes to church 2 times a week, I have rules and regulations for her cell phone, I have talked to her about respecting herself and not letting any boy take advantage of her and we got caught in this same mess. My child was told by a boy that she really liked if she would send a naked photo of herself he would go out with her. I as her parent had made it very clear to her that dating was not an option for her because she was too young to handle it. I did not know about this incident until 10 minutes before leaving for church she told me she sent a bad photo. I was shocked and wasn't sure how to respond, she told me she didn't want to go to school that next Monday and I told her she would have to just face this. I left for church and left her with her older sister. As soon as I left my daughter took a lot of pills in the attempt to kill herself. I got home 4 hours later and she ended up in the hospital. Thank God I still have my daughter. Right away we put her into professional counselling and per the counselors advice we are homeschooling her until she is strong enough to go back and face her peers. We have had bullying issues with her from her peers, girls and boys alike for the last 4 years. I approached the school numerous times about starting a serious program and they told me they didnt have the funds. Now 2 other 7th grade girls have been pulled out to homeschool because of bullying and a 7th grade boy, all the same class as my daughter went to school with a list of kids he intended to hurt. We have a big problem and it's not all about poor parenting. Our children don't stand a chance today.

  9. It is tragic what happened to this girl, but there is absolutely NO reason to pass even MORE laws, all laws do is blind people. They don't prevent bad things from happening. Instead of pushing to creat new laws, why don't you instead push morals on kids? make them more aware of what they are doing. Young girls shouldn't be sending seductive, naked pictures of themselves over the phone, or internet, or anywhere if they don't want them to pop up somewhere down the road. And Young men should have MORE RESPECT for women, and number one, not even think of asking for pictures like that. But number two, not sending them around.

    Children always have been extremely cruel to each other, the only difference is that now they are finding more ways to be so cruel, and on top of that many children either live in homes where there is no consequences for bad behavior, and the child is left to run about as he/she pleases, and on the other side of the spectrum we see children who are extremely sheltered. I can't speak for every parent, so i'm not even going to try, i KNOW there are parents who beleive they have reached a happy medium in the rules they have for there child, but the point is still, the only reason our children 'don't stand a chance' is because they are destroying themselves. If its not bad parenting what is it?

    You can't hide somebody from themselves just like you can't hide children from eachother. and pointing yet ANOTHER finger away from the sorce of the problem solves absolutely nothing. nothing at all.

  10. Please help. My wife and I just discovered our daughter's sexting episodes. We haven't talked to her yet

    because we want to approach it firmly but cautiously, trying to decide our best course of action.

    She is 15 and the boy is 17. This pictures are nude and the text is graphic.

    Thank you for your serious response.

  11. Im 14 and i experienced the sexting suicide my self my cousin commited suicied after her ex boyfriend made a myspace page and added all of her friends she was teased and taunted as well she was found with a bottle of pills in the bath tub and it was too late to save her.

  12. Bill, i would let your wife handle it. i am 14, going on fifteen, and if i did that and my parents caught me, i would not appreciate my dad trying to talk to me about it. i understand you want to help sort it out, but let your wife talk to her about it. you can help punish or whatever you want to do about it. but just leave the talking to the mother. if you talked to her about it, she would probably be embarrassed and she most likely wouldnt be comfortable around you. as for the age difference, dont worry about age. its just a number. and age does not cause problems. the mindset of the younger person is what causes problems. so DO NOT make age a big deal. a lot of teen girls (usually from 14-18) try sexting. its just curiosity. i know it is wrong, but dont be too hard on her… she is just experimenting =)

  13. You know, I really don't think any of this qualifies as bad parenting. I don't have kids yet, but I'm guessing that these parents, having grown up in a different era (one without cell phones and texting), have probably never even imagined something like this going on. It really is a new phenomenon, and we really shouldn't be so hard on parents for not thinking of something like "sexting".

    On the other hand, however, it is parents' responsibility to learn about what their kids are doing and how they are doing it. That means learning about what technology is available and how their kids are using it. If the parents can't learn how to use the technology, then at the very least they should learn how to turn it off. They should also know enough to impress upon their kids that nothing, and I mean nothing, they do on the internet, or on their cell phones, is truly private any more. The moment the information, be it picture or text, leaves the cell phone, it should be considered public. Perhaps with that in mind, these teens that are sending inappropriate pictures of themselves will think twice before hitting the send button.

  14. wow im sorry to hear that, that would suck if you lost a child, or if they killed themselves over taking an sending a nude picture of themselves to other people, but i think trying to blame people for you or your daughters mistakes is quite interesting, your pointing the finger at people that would really have nothing to do with it if it wasn't for Jessie sending or taking the pictures of "HERSELF", how could you even say that its other people fault that she killed herself, that's just wrong to think about…I've been following the case myself an i just think its sickening how the parents are trying to sue for wrongful death when it was her daughter Who hung themselves after going to her best friends funeral after he "Committed suicide" yeah its tragic but its more tragic that its been over two years an the parents are still making her daughters death a publicity stunt to try an get her name out there,if you ask me Jessie would have probably would have wanted to rest in peace rather her mom go after all her friends an point the finger at them because she cant expect the fact that her Daughter put her life in her own hands an TOOK her own life because she couldn't handle the consequences of her mistakes "taking an sending the picture"….the only thing tragic about this story/case is the parents, an how there dragging her daughters death ruining any respect that Jessie had left …

  15. I think above poster is wrong and too harsh. You clearly don't have an understanding of bullying. People are not being held accountable for their behavior. Yes, Jessie made mistakes and paid dearly for them. That does not mean the kids bullying her and passing this around were not wrong, too. Tormenting another person is wrong. There were bullying issues before all this that weren't handled appropriately and this child was desperate. That is a tragedy. A young life lost like that is tragic. I'm not sure why you're coming out so angry about a child's suicide, but think how desperate a person would have to feel in order to commit suicide. Please don't judge her or her family for their pain. There were other problems going on here besides what Jessie did – her tormentors were wrong.

  16. Teens have swapped the traditional teenage flirting of passing of notes with sexting. Several studies have shown that teens are engaging in the sending of nude or semi-nude photos from cell phone to cell phone. Although often intended for private use, the photos can end up being shared and that’s when sexting among teens spirals out of control. The accessibility of technology has amplified teenagers’ provocative and impulsive behaviors. Many teenagers seem to not know of the several consequences of their actions. In 2009, a Wisconsin teen was charged with possessing child pornography after he posted nude photos of his teenage ex-girlfriend. In Alabama, four middle schoolers were arrested for exchanging nude photos of themselves. In every state stories can be found regarding the prosecution of teens for participating in sexting.
    Even if teens don’t face charges for this act, the distribution or posting of these comprising photos can illicit other consequences, including humiliation and cyberbullying. In 2008, 18-year old Jesse Logan from Ohio hung herself after being harassed, bullied, and humiliated because of the sharing of her nude photos by her ex boyfriend. Cell phones, the internet, and other technology have several benefits. However, parents and teenagers both have a responsibility of understanding the dangers and consequences of technology prior to using it. Tragedies such as that of Jesse Logan’s can be avoided if educators, parents, and legislators take the responsibility of educating teens about the dangers they face.

  17. Perhaps she didn't text the photo to the boy. It was her so called girlfriends who locked her in a closet on Spring break and stole the photo off her phone. Does this change the story a bit?
    Jessie definitely made a mistake by taking this photo of herself. Stupid- I suppose. But who on this page is not guilty of making a stupid mistake or two when they were a teenager? The world is a very different place today. The cyber world never existed when some of us were teenagers.
    Jessie did do something most teenagers would not do, she went forward on a local news station;told the local viewing audience what she did, and how much pain she was experiencing because of it. She also wanted to help other teens see the consequences of her mistake,how it was affecting her and hoped they would heed her advise.
    What you don't know is that the officer encouraged this teenager to go forward on a local new station without any adult knowing about it besides the principal of the school. Her parents were not informed until it was too late. Jessie was influenced by what the officer told her.
    What happened to this teenager should never have taken place. The school does have the power to turn a situation around by sending out letters to parents about what took place Twice in a matter of one month in their school.
    School officals failed this important lesson.
    An assembly should have been put together to warn these kids about provocative cell phone photos were going around the school and it is a crime. The students who are sending them can and will be prosecuted. It would be very wise to delete these photos and tell all their friends to delete them as well.
    It is of course a Misdemeanor offense. I am sure it would have rattled quite a few parents and kids if they had the school stating these facts. I also think it would have given Jessie some hope that the school stood behind her and gave the support she needed in her darkest days.

  18. I have no children of my own yet I am quite concerned with the issue. I am studying to become a high school teacher and this has become a serious burden that we are facing. Even though I feel that it is important for the schools to help out and talk to the students about sexting and the harm that it can do I do believe that the main resposiblity falls on the parents. They need to be the main ones to talk with their children about the consequences and dangers of the act.

  19. Sadly, cyber bullying does happen and as a student researching the Jessica Logan case, cyber bullying should be a serious matter to be talked about in schools and in homes today with such easy access to the internet. Cyber bullying should not be happening to children and teens and they should not be committing suicide because of it. Precautions should be taken before it gets to far. Schools should be educating their students and parents should be educating themselves and their children on the matter in case it comes across the community they live in or in there home.

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