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School District Aims to Put an End to 'Sexting'

But some wonder if this well intentioned policy might be overreaching.

By Jeremy Greenberg Aug 7, 2012 2:18PM

Photo: Peter Glass/Getty ImagesIf you’re a student in Troy, Michigan, you’ve officially been warned that your school district will not tolerate 'sexting', the transfer of any sexually explicit material via a mobile phone from one student to another, according to The Washington Post. School officials have been given the green light to confiscate a student’s phone if there is any complaint that student has been sexting—no matter if it happened on or off campus. Offender’s phone will be turned over to local prosecutors.

It’s part of a recent ban enforced by the Troy Board of Education.

Of course, no adult thinks it’s acceptable for teenagers to waste their data plans sending each other dirty photos. But some question if this policy is also a bit lewd in its criminalization of an action which is really nothing more than a physical expression of poor teenage decision making.

Michael J. Steinberg, legal director for the ACLU Michigan, was quoted in the Post story:

“Usually, this is kids being irresponsible and careless and certainly not criminals, and they shouldn’t be treated that way.”

There is also a differing of opinion regarding how big of a problem sexting actually is among teens. Some studies, such as one conducted in 2011 by the Pew Research Center reports that 4 percent of teenagers had sent naked images of themselves, and that 15 percent had received them. However, a Journal Pediatrics study reduces the percentage of teens that have texted sexual photos to 1 percent.

Regardless of how much texting is going on in Troy, Michigan, this policy will probably end up reflecting positively on the school district. Kids need to be sent the message that their naked bodies should not end up as someone else’s desktop wallpaper. However, the teenage libido has been causing trouble since the beginning of time. Let’s hope the authorities also remember that it’s not a crime to be young and hormonally compromised.

Photo: Peter Glass/Getty Images

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489Comments
Mar 13, 2013 4:35PM
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I wish they had this whn I was  a kid

Mar 4, 2013 11:05PM
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I'm a teenage girl & I can see both sides of the argument.  Teens are going to do things, no matter what.  I don't think the students should be treated as 'criminals'.  However, sexting is considered Child Pornography, which is illegal.  I know as well as anybody, once you send/post a nude picture, it's out there.  You can't tell me that if a girl sent a guy a nude picture of herself, he wouldn't show anyone.  Girls and guys don't realize the severity of sending nude pictures.  You can take the picture, send it to one person, and delete it... But the person you sent the picture to, probably sent it to all his/her contacts, and then all the people he/she sent it to, sent it to everyone else.  Having said all of that, sexting is illegal and teens can be prosecuted for it.  I don't think the school has the right to confiscate the students phones.  I do think the school has the right to inform the students of the dangers in sexting.  Besides, if the school was so concerned with students sexting, the school should get a hold of the students Parents/Gaurdians.  The school really shouldn't take these kinds of matters into their own hands. 
Jan 19, 2013 9:07AM
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I think the problem is actually a lot more common than most people think.  From what I've seen, this is a very common occurance.  I think it's that, at least for women, it is a horrible idea to send naked pictures to anybody.  Think about your futures kids.  Your boyfriend is definitely saving those pics, and showing them to his friends.  When you eventually break up, and you will at some point.  Then everyone is going to see them.  That's just how it is.  I've seen it happen dozens of times.
Jan 17, 2013 9:41PM
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That school policy may have good intentions but it's a wrong step to instantly criminal them for a bad decision. Doesn't this school realize the prosecutors will try to charge the kids as sex offernders for just an explict text? If they do it, take the phone and send them to the deans where parents get called to examn their kids phone, no school staff should be allowed to search the phone or see anything but the screen it's on when taken.

 

What ever happened to no phone use during class

Dec 27, 2012 10:26AM
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Yes teens make bad judgement calls and that is what makes them teens, their inability to predict the consequences of their actions. Im a grown man and I still have trouble with it. The way to handle this is to monitor and educate not ban and deny.
Nov 30, 2012 12:58AM
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 PARENTS CONTROL YOUR KIDS OR DON`T HAVE THEM AND I think the school should take any ph or anything else that don't belong in the class and make parents come to school and get it since parents let their kids run amuck .  Parents should not let this happen to begin with if ur kid has to have a ph make it one with out the net and cam its like the old flip ph no thrills . TEENS  are always  going to have SEX on the brain just like most adults just facts but deal with it the odds are if they have to do SHOW AND TELL IN PERSON WITH OUT THE PH IN SEXTING MOST R SHY AND WONT HAPPEN JUST LIKE ADULTS. There are jamming devices u can buy online but most are illegal in the states but some still own them they will knock out anything in its radius.     

Nov 26, 2012 7:26PM
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When the school board takes a phone they should start paying the bills for that phone.
Nov 26, 2012 4:58PM
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Legislators in many states have actually facilitated more "sexting" by passing bills which make it a misdemeanor. Prior to this, the "sexters" were prosecuted under child pornography laws (felony), which also carried with it lifelong registration as sex offenders. Maybe we need to bring back the harsher penalties. That being said, I think the school is overstepping its authority, unless the incident happened on the campus. Seems like it would be simpler to ban possession of a cell phone by students on school grounds all together.
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