San Diego police are looking into a sexting ring that broke out in the San Dieguito Union High School District after dozens of students forwarded sexually explicit photos of their fellow students. The students involved could be charged with possession or distribution of child pornography after the photos of the teen girls reached six different high schools and a middle school.
But rather than focusing on the criminal charges that need to be placed on the teenagers, administrators should look at how to educate students to prevent similar cases from happening in the future.
There are dangers that come with sexting, and students should understand the dangers before they are punished.
Otherwise, sexting will continue as long as teenage hormones do.
Sexting begins after an individual sends a naked photo to another person, giving them the opportunity to send the photo and create a web of photo sharing – the distribution of child pornography.
With digital technology and social media becoming more prominent in daily lives, a photo can easily go viral without an individual knowing.
About 26 percent of teenagers and young adults sext, which is lower than previous years.
According to a survey released by MTV and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, there has been a six percent decline in teenage or young adult sexting.
But 26 percent is still a high percentage. In reality that number will never reach zero.
Elementary schools begin sex education as early as fifth grade.
Included in the lesson plans are ways to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, but schools can easily take time to incorporate the dangers of sexting, and inform students why they should not do it.
In the same MTV survey, 72 percent of the 1,300 people aged 14 to 24 reported that digital abuse is destructive and believe the problem should be addressed.
If students are recognizing the problem of the abuse that comes with sexually explicit photos being distributed, perhaps schools can help support these students rather than avoid the situation altogether.
It will be a difficult task for a teacher, who probably did not grow up in the digital age that we live in now, to talk about something they might not know anything about, sexting.
All it takes is a little research and a few examples of how sexting has ruined lives of boys and girls across the country.
It will not end the sexting epidemic, but it will be a step in the right direction and as long as we inform the students, then we can say we are a doing a good job of preventing it.
Attempting to charge these kids with distribution of child pornography does send a message, but it is extreme. The solution is in the classroom, not the courtroom.
San Diego officers will hold an informational meeting for parents about the potential arrests that may be made, but these “informational meetings” should really be held in the classroom – before the sexting has occurred.