Sexting’ during school hours

5 Aug

In Teaching children about ‘sexting’ Moi said:

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 eye opening 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.

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

Children are not mature and adults cannot 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.

Maureen Feighan reports in the Detroit News article, Schools in Troy seek to curb sexting:

Sexting — texting or emailing sexually explicit pictures or texts — is surging among teens, legal experts say, and one local school district is stepping up the fight against it.

The Troy School District Board of Education adopted a sexting policy this month that puts students on notice that their cellphones, laptops and other electronic devices may be searched starting in September if there’s “reasonable suspicion” of sexting, and local authorities may be contacted.

While school officials say the policy wasn’t prompted by a specific incident, it may be one of the first of its kind to specifically address sexting in a Metro Detroit school district.

“It was just a matter of being proactive and recognizing that unfortunately across the United States with the proliferation of communication devices and social media, it’s … only a matter of time before this may occur,” said Rich Machesky, Troy’s assistant superintendent for secondary instruction.

Still, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has concerns about Troy’s policy, including how broadly it defines materials of a sexual nature and the handing over of a student’s private cellphone to police. They say under the current definition, biology books would be off-limits.

“Usually, this is kids being irresponsible and careless and certainly not criminals, and they shouldn’t be treated that way,” said Michael J. Steinberg, legal director for ACLU Michigan.

One infive teenage girls say they have electronically sent or posted online nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves, according to a national survey, “Sex and Tech,” by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and

Andone inthree teenage boys say they have had nude or semi-nude images, originally meant to be private, shared with them.

A study by researchers at the University of Michigan found sexting is also common among college-age people. The U-M SexLab and Prevention Research Center of Michigan surveyed 3,500 young adults, ages 18-24, and found 43 percent had received or sent sex-related messages on their phones.

As common as it may be, the consequences are serious. In Michigan, youngsters who sext can be prosecuted under child pornography laws and face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Just possessing sexually explicit material is a four-year felony. A juvenile conviction for a sexual offense could land someone on the state’s sex offender registry….

“I’ve gotten a lot of calls from parents that their kids are facing these serious charges and they’re flabbergasted,” Service said.

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools uses its student code of conduct to make it clear to students that sexting is forbidden.

“If we even suspect it, we get the police involved,” said district spokesman Frank Ruggirello.

But where does student privacy end and a district’s right to know begin? The ACLU’s Steinberg said standards are different for schools; a district has to have reasonable suspicion of possible illegal activity to conduct a search of someone’s belongings. Police, on the other hand, have to have probable cause that a crime has been committed.

“It’s a much higher standard than school officials,” said Steinberg, who has problems with Troy officials potentially acting as agents of the police.

The district’s policy states “all evidence and electronic devices shall be turned over to the appropriate law enforcement agency.”

Machesky said students could say no to a request to search their cellphone or laptop if a school official suspects sexting; the district would then contact the parents, he said.

If a student is found in violation of the policy, discipline could range from a minor infraction to up to a 10-day suspension.

“The real challenge to policing this whole issue of social media is behavior that happens outside of school versus behavior that happens inside school,” Machesky said. “Where it becomes a gray area is when incidents happen outside of school and may have an impact on school.”

See, School district acts to stop ‘sexting’                                 

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.


Sexting Information: What every parent should know about sexting.

Social Networking and Internet Safety Information for Parents: Sexting

Teen Sexting Tips


New study about ‘sexting’ and teens                                                                     

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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