How should schools treat sexting?


Where does accountability begin?

In an age where our kids’ phones are almost literally a physically appendage, we see stories online and in the news every day about teenagers sexting. Sadly, in too many cases, a nude photo will be taken and sent to another- who in turn makes the devastatingly horrible choice to post it in one or more social media accounts.

While the minor who sent the nude photo of himself or herself is often portrayed as the victim, as parents, we have to also ask ourselves: Where is the accountability of that person who took and sent the nude photo of himself or herself in the first place? When is it ever ‘right’ for any minor to take and distribute a nude photo of themselves?  Have the consequences of such actions been discussed enough with my child that I can be confident he or she will not do this? And, of course, how does my child’s school handle such situations for students who are involved in athletics or other groups?

Some Facts:

As defined in an article on, “Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit photos, messages, voicemails, IM’s, videos, etc., either via phone, computer, webcam or other device.”

From, here are some really scary facts that we can’t afford NOT to pay attention to.  You can see all 11 facts by clicking on the link below, but here are just a few:

  1.  Sending semi-nude or nude photos is more common among teens girls. 22% of teen girls report sending images of this nature, while only 18% of same-age boys have.
  2. 15% of teens who have sent or posted nude/semi-nude images of themselves send these messages to people they have never met, but know from the Internet.
  3. Sending or receiving a sexually suggestive text or image under the age of 18 is considered child pornography and can result in criminal charges.

Key Questions:

Most schools impose significant consequences on the party (student) who takes a nude photo sent to them by another student and posts it on social media.  But, what about the minor who takes and sends the photos of him/herself in the first place?  If they are considered the ‘victim’, should there be any consequences?  Should a minor girl who sends her boyfriend nude pictures (who in turn posts them to Twitter or another social media account) be allowed to stay on her school athletics team or on student council or any other group/club at school? What kind of an example does that set for the others on the team?  What role should the school play in holding both the “victim” and “victimizer” accountable for their actions that are both wrong- on different levels?

I’m curious.  What do YOU think?  There seems to be a lot of gray area here, with some schools hesitant to impose consequences on kids who send nude photos of themselves to another student.  Understandably, there is a fine line between what happens during school and outside of school- and what actions can be taken by schools.  But, if a student can lose his/her place on a team for getting caught at a party on a weekend where there is alcohol and if high school athletics are a privilege with certain character standards, what sort of precedent is important to set?  This is a problem that isn’t going away based on the statistics above.  We’d better figure out what our tolerance level is and how to address it.

I know what my opinions are- I’d like to hear yours.