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Letter: Sexting

Sexting is a rather recent problem that has damaging effects on young high school students. Sexting is the forwarding of nude or semi-nude photographs through the use of a cell phone or any other electronic media.  School districts are finding that more and more teenage girls are sending obscene pictures of themselves to boys. Sexting gets out of hand when male students trade images with their friends through their phones.

For example, consider Tunkhannock School District, in Pennsylvania, where underage girls were recently involved in a sexting incident and cell phones were confiscated, according to an article in the October, 2009 edition of Phi Delta Kappa. The county’s district attorney, George Skumanick, warned students that if they did this they would be prosecuted under the Pennsylvania anti-child pornography law. Skumanick also told the female students that they would have a permanent criminal record for their behavior.

Skumanick sent a letter to each member involved in the photos or who shared the images through their cell phones. The letters told the parents that their child could be the victim of child pornography and that each student must attend an education and counseling program in order for charges to be dropped. Students need to be aware that the actions of sexting have consequences. Young girls should be ashamed of themselves sending scandalous pictures of their bodies to boys.

School districts need to take a stand because sexting can be potentially dangerous. Administrators and boards of education are finding it difficult when it comes to regulating rules for sexting, mainly because school officials are looking for a way to deal with this situation without getting sued. School officials need to write new policies into their school handbooks addressing this issue. These policies should define what sexting is and that it is a serious crime that deserves a punishment. Anyone found guilty of sexting in schools should get detention. If matters get out of hand then it’s up to the principal to determine if a suspension is needed. They must take into account the technology department and legal authorities who have knowledge in this issue.

 Lena Capobianco