Friday, December 11, 2009

It's 10 o'clock. Do you know what's on your kid's cell phone?

Last week, the topic was texting. This week the topic is sexting. Don’t recognize the word sexting? Neither does the spell-checker on my computer so don’t feel bad. Sexting is the sending of sexually explicit pictures, videos, or text messages via cell phone.

According to a CNN News report: “The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy, a private nonprofit group whose mission is to protect children, and, surveyed nearly 1,300 teens about sex and technology. The result: 1 in 5 teens say they've sexted even though the majority know it could be a crime… In many states, like Florida, if a person is convicted of a crime against children, it automatically triggers registration to the sex offender registry. Thirty-eight states include juvenile sex offenders in their sex offender registries. Alaska, Florida and Maine will register juveniles only if they are tried as adults. Indiana registers juveniles age 14 and older. South Dakota registers juveniles age 15 and older. Most states allow public access to sex offender registries via the Internet and anyone with a computer can locate registered sex offenders in their neighborhoods.”

The APS Board of Education is very concerned about this disturbing trend and has proposed procedural directives on what to do in the event that a student is found to have sexted or is suspected of doing so. This is part of a larger proposed policy concerning the use of cell phones at middle schools. Briefly, the proposed policy prohibits middle school students from using cell phones at any time during the school day. Currently students at Taylor may use cell phones outside of the school building before school and after school and during lunch. The new policy would not apply to “students who have a special medical condition for self or family member or if the student is using the cell phone or electronic device for an educational or instructional purpose with the teacher’s permission and supervision.”

I encourage you to talk to your kids about sexting and find out if they have been a victim of this. If they have, please report it to the police and school officials immediately. We want your children to be safe at school.

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