Privacy & Security

‘Sexting’ Incident Raises Big-Picture Digital Safety Issues

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — April 20, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It’s getting increasingly complicated to keep students safe at school, especially as technology becomes more widely used in the classroom and for personal communication. Policies to keep students safe in the digital age are often crafted with painstaking detail to allow for a range of scenarios.

But as this commentary piece in Sunday’s Washington Post describes, the rapid pace of technology and trends in how it is used among young people make it difficult to keep up. And there’s always the potential that such policies will have unintended consequences.

Ting-Yi Oei, a school administrator in a Northern Virginia school district, describes his ordeal after being indicted on child pornography charges. While he was investigating a case of “sexting,” in which cellphone users text nude photos of themselves to others, he had one teenager send the evidence, a provocative photo of another student, to his own cellphone so he could transfer it to his office computer as the principal instructed.

His problems started essentially because of his lack of tech savvy.

“I immediately took the picture to the principal, who instructed me to transfer it to my office computer in case we needed it later. Being unfamiliar with camera features on cellphones, I asked the school’s technology resource teacher for help, but he didn’t have an immediate solution. The student then said that he could text the picture to my cellphone. That left the problem of getting it to my computer, whereupon the boy said that I could send the picture to my school e-mail address.”

All the charges in last year’s incident were recently thrown out of court. But it is not likely to be erased from the educator’s memory.

As more cases of sexting are coming to light, however, other serious consequences are arising. Some teens are being charged with crimes for sending each other nude photos. I’ve read of cases where the offending teens may be required to register as sex offenders.

Earlier this month, Vermont lawmakers proposed making sexting legal between consenting teens, according to this news story.

Are other state and local lawmakers giving school leaders guidance on this issue? How should these kinds of cases be handled by school administrators and teachers?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Quiz
Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Cybersecurity For Schools And Districts?
Answer 6 questions about actionable cybersecurity solutions.
Content provided by FlexPoint Education Cloud
Privacy & Security What Schools Need to Know About These Federal Data-Privacy Bills
Congress is considering at least three data-privacy bills that could have big implications for schools.
5 min read
Photo illustration of a key on a digital background of zeros and ones.
E+
Privacy & Security A New Federal Taskforce Targets Cybersecurity in Schools
The “government coordinating council" aims to provide training, policies, and best practices.
3 min read
Illustration of computer and lock.
iStock / Getty Images Plus
Privacy & Security Q&A Why One Tech Leader Prioritizes Explaining Student Data Privacy to Teachers
Jun Kim, the director of technology for an Oklahoma school district, helped build a statewide database of vetted learning platforms.
3 min read
Jun Kim, Director of Technology for Moore Public Schools, poses for a portrait outside the Center for Technology on Dec. 13, 2023 in Moore, Okla.
Jun Kim, is the director of technology for the Moore school district in Moore, Okla., He has made securing student data a priority for the district and the state.
Brett Deering for Education Week