Several media outlets featured a story Wednesday on nude photos of junior high school girls being circulated via cell phone in a Texas school. Fox News reported that
"Those students forwarded the images and the circle opened up and got wider and wider," Superintendent Jon Whittemore said Tuesday.
He said that it all started when two Santa Fe Junior High School students took nude photos of themselves and sent them to their boyfriends. The boyfriends forwarded the photos to others, who in turn forwarded them again, he said.
While many schools have moved to ban cellular phones, most students still carry them. Our own "Saturday school" (an in-school suspension on Saturday mornings) is usually filled up with cell-phone violators. However, this case certainly highlights the speed at which highly inappropriate content can circulate among students via their favorite electronic devices.
More importantly, it highlights the cavalier attitude of young people towards placing themselves in compromising positions. YouTube and MySpace are filled with examples of kids behaving in ways that will hardly help them land jobs a few years down the road. It also suggests a distinct educational need to inform kids about the use of technology and the possible consequences of their behaviors.
For schools, the use of cell phones on campus certainly opens the door for liability; on campus, we're largely responsible for student actions, including what many would say amounts to child pornography in cases like this. This is hardly an isolated incident:
In November, five eighth-grade students at Alvin Junior High School were suspended after one of them took a cell phone photo of a 13-year-old girl coming out of a shower. That photo was taken by a female student during a sleepover at a girlfriend's home. The student sent the photo to her boyfriend, who sent it to his friends.