Teaching children about ‘sexting’

18 Nov

We live in a society with few personal controls and even fewer people recognize boundaries which should govern their behavior and how they treat others. Laura Hibbard has an eyeopening post at Huffington Post about a teacher who was “sexting” one of her students. In the article, Cynthia Stewart, School Counselor, Jailed For Sexting Boy Hibbard reports:

After allegedly texting naked photos of herself to a 15-year-old boy, 43-year-old school counselor Cynthia Stewart faces possible jail time, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported.

According to the report, Stewart, a counselor at Olympia Elementary School, has been charged with with solicitation of a minor as well as receipt of child pornography.

Authorities arrested Stewart after the boy’s parents found the correspondance, which included more than 20 naked photos of the counselor, My San Antonio reported.

After the two became friends on Facebook two years ago, their messages turned sexual in nature, the report said. Investigators are still unsure whether or not any sexual exchanges ever took place offline, but are continuing to look into the matter.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/16/cynthia-stewart-school-counselor-sexting-student_n_1098301.html?ref=education

Unfortunately, “sexting” incidents involving children and adults with authority over them are not that uncommon.

Children are not mature and adults can not expect the same level of maturity that most adults are presumed to have. Immature people, like kids, will take even harmless interactions and embellish and broadcast them to the world at large. The safest course of action for for teachers who want to be viewed as teacher professionals is to use common sense when using all social media and never put yourself in a situation with a student which can be viewed as compromising.

Common Sense Media has some great resources for parents about teaching children how to use media responsibly. Their information  Talking About “Sexting” is excellent.

That picture’s not as private as you think

  • 22% of teen girls and 20% of teen boys have sent nude or semi-nude photos of themselves over the Internet or their phones.
  • 22% of teens admit that technology makes them personally more forward and aggressive.
  • 38% of teens say exchanging sexy content makes dating or hooking up with others more likely.
  • 29% of teens believe those exchanging sexy content are “expected” to date or hook up.
  • (All of the above are from CosmoGirl and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2009.)

Advice for Parents

  • Don’t wait for an incident to happen to your child or your child’s friend before you talk about the consequences of sexting. Sure, talking about sex or dating with teens can be uncomfortable, but it’s better to have the talk before something happens.
  • Remind your kids that once an image is sent, it can never be retrieved — and they will lose control of it. Ask teens how they would feel if their teachers, parents, or the entire school saw the picture, because that happens all the time.
  • Talk about pressures to send revealing photos. Let teens know that you understand how they can be pushed or dared into sending something. Tell them that no matter how big the social pressure is, the potential social humiliation can be hundreds of times worse.
  • Teach your children that the buck stops with them. If someone sends them a photo, they should delete it immediately. It’s better to be part of the solution than the problem. Besides, if they do send it on, they’re distributing pornography — and that’s against the law.
  • Check out ThatsNotCool.com. It’s a fabulous site that gives kids the language and support to take texting and cell phone power back into their own hands. It’s also a great resource for parents who are uncomfortable dealing directly with this issue.

Common Sense Media has other great resources including including Caroline Knorr ‘s excellent article, How Rude! manners For the Digital Age

Parent must monitor their child’s use of technology.

Resources:

Sexting Information: What every parent should know about sexting.

http://www.noslang.com/sexting.php

Social Networking and Internet Safety Information for Parents: Sexting

http://internet-safety.yoursphere.com/sexting/

Teen Sexting Tips

http://www.safeteens.com/teen-sexting-tips/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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