Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Kids' Sexting Arrests — Overreaction, Say Parents

Two 14-year-old boys in Smithtown School District (Long Island, NY) have been arrested because one had sex with an underage girl while the other filmed it and then transmitted it to other kids.  The charges against the two boys include a felony for disseminating indecent material to minors as well as a misdemeanor for child abuse.  Dozens of students at Kings Park High School have now been suspended for participating in the transmission of this sexually explicit material.

Meanwhile, the sexting epidemic is prompting more education "experts" to advise that sexting doesn't harm kids, but rather what's needed is education in "safe sexting."

For background, click headlines below to read previous articles:

Hundreds of Colorado Students Self-produce Child Porn, Police Say

Sexting Epidemic: Indiana & Illinois Schools, Police Say

Teens Jailed for Child Porn Group Sex Video in Illinois

Teen Students Learn to Produce & Distribute Child Pornography

Also read Education Experts Say: Relax Parents, Sexting is Simply How Kids Flirt Today

-- From "Sexting scandal rocks Long Island" posted at WNYW-TV5 (New York, NY) 11/10/15

Parents of the suspended children are outraged. They say their children cannot control what text messages are sent to them. Some parents have said they would defy the suspensions and send their children to school.

School officials say the [suspended] students will be arrested for trespassing if they show up.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Cellphone sex images lead to arrests of Long Island teens" by Anthony DiLorenzo, WPIX-TV11 (New York, NY) 11/10/15

Suffolk County police said an encounter that occurred off school grounds between a male and female, who knew each other, was recorded on a cellphone by a male acquaintance in late October. Police said the recording was distributed electronically.

Further dissemination of the video may result in criminal charges, police said.

Smithtown School District confirms it is investigating the incident and working with Suffolk County police on the investigation into the allegations that its students were also involved in the sexting.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Massive sexting scandal at Kings Park High School leads to dozens of suspensions, some arrests" by Kristin Thorne, WABC-TV7 (New York, NY) 11/9/15

Andrew Fenton's son is one of dozens of students in the Kings Park Central School District on Long Island who are now suspended for this week for allegedly texting or even viewing a video of another student in a sexually explicit video.

Fenton told Eyewitness News that kids were pulled into the principal's office at Kings Park High last Friday, and 20 parents had a meeting with the principal on Monday morning. Two students have officially been arrested.

"It's impossible to believe that your son could get into trouble because somebody forwarded a video to his phone that he has no control over receiving it," says Fenton.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Parents Say They’ll Risk Arrest, Bring Kids To School After Suspensions In Sexting Case" Posted at WCBS-TV2 (New York, NY) 11/10/15

Thomas Phelan said his 15-year-old son was unfairly dragged into a sexting scandal involving several students at Kings Park High School and William T. Rogers Middle School simply for receiving a text message.

“My son was an unwilling participant because he didn’t give anyone permission or authority to send this over to him,” he said.

“A kid to receive that on their phone, I don’t know how they punish those specific kids because you can’t stop what you receive on your phone.” parent Wayne Davignon told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs.

The school district posted a letter to parents on its website that said: “Possession and/or disseminating of indecent material is illegal. This can be a serious violation of the KCPSD Code of Conduct and a crime, which can result in suspension and/or arrest.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Showdown looms for parents, principal after school casts wide net in sexting scandal" by Cody Derespina, FoxNews.com 11/10/15

At least one of the suspended students attempted to attend class at Kings Park High School on Tuesday morning, but school officials called his father and told him the boy would need to be removed, Newsday reported. The father reluctantly consented and, shortly after 9 a.m., two police officers escorted the boy off the premises.

Distributing obscene images of minors is a felony in New York, and a spokesperson for the Suffolk County Police Department told FoxNews.com that students found to have passed along the sexting images could be arrested.

Any students who attempted to defy the suspension were subject to arrest if the district requested it, a spokesperson for the Suffolk Police Department said. Police maintained a presence at the school on Tuesday morning.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Dear Parents and Guardians" by Timothy T. Eagen, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools, Kings Park Central School District 11/9/15

Yes, WE do have a serious problem. However, from my perspective it is that our young people are carrying mini computers in their back pockets that are both unfiltered and largely unsupervised. This is a shared problem, and more than just an issue of one student, one decision, or one suspension.

This is not simply a Kings Park issue, but rather a more global issue. The good news is that this is an issue that we can address together as a community.

Many of our children are using mobile devices and social media in perfectly safe, normal, and educational ways. However, some of our children are engaging in problematic behavior.

The thing that deeply upsets me is that very few, if any, of our students district-wide reported any recent problematic behaviors to an adult. This I find troubling. There is a law on the books called the 911 Good Samaritan Law, where a person cannot be arrested for calling 911 if they are with someone in immediate need of attention. My goal over the next few months is to work with our principals and parents to get the word out that we need our young people to be good citizens and report problematic behavior to an adult. In most cases, no school discipline would result for the reporter/upstander.  On the contrary, the young person would certainly be rewarded for helping to make Kings Park a safer place to live and go to school.

To read the entire letter above, CLICK HERE.

From "Schools Can’t Stop Kids From Sexting. More Technology Can." by Jonathan Zimmerman, Sex Educator, New York University (posted at New York Times) 11/10/15

. . . For the past century, we’ve been worrying that new forms of media are fostering sexual immorality in the young. And we’ve called upon our schools to stem the evil tide. . . .

The schools are an easy target, but the wrong one. Public ambivalence about youth sexuality limits what the schools can do, nor do we have strong evidence that schools can affect teenagers’ behavior, in any event. And it’s hardly certain that youth sexting is the dangerous scourge that most adults imagine. . . . nobody has ever shown that the sexting induces kids to engage in riskier behavior. . . .

Many teenagers regard sexting as a normal part of courtship . . . [they] know that it can be perfectly innocuous . . . when a romantic couple shares intimate photos and deletes them right afterward.

. . . So how should we address the issue of sexting? What if we tried to meet the kids where they are? The most promising sex education initiatives right now are text-messaging services, which allow teenagers to submit questions anonymously and receive informed answers. In North Carolina and Texas, these services are operated by public health departments; others are run by organizations like Planned Parenthood. . . .

To read the entire opinion column above, CLICK HERE.