Jesse Logan’s story has been pretty eye-opening. Listening to HLN, one of the few available TV channels on the TV set I’m listening to, an interesting point came up–since Miss Logan was 18 years old, she was considered an adult when she sent the inappropriate picture of herself to her boyfriend, who when they broke up, sent it to other girls at their high school (eventually leading to Miss Logan’s suicide).

It’s pretty sobering stuff to realize that sticks and stones may break your bones but words can kill, and images…well, if an image is worth a thousand words, then how much more deadly images sent over a mobile device can be!

In the HLN broadcast, one of the guests pointed to A Thin Line, a web site that features a variety of great information, including a quiz I think every educator should take when you first hit their web site.

Thin Line campaign was developed to empower you to identify, respond to, and stop the spread of digital abuse in your life and amongst your peers. The campaign is built on the understanding that there’s a “thin line” between what may begin as a harmless joke and something that could end up having a serious impact on you or someone else. We know no generation has ever had to deal with this, so we want to partner with you to help figure it out. On-air, online and on your cell, we hope to spark a conversation and deliver information that helps you draw your own digital line.

Anne Bubnic shares a great collection of resources regarding Sexting. I was particularly struck by one story where an Assistant Principal who was investigating sexting was charged with a crime by a prosecutor! This particular story highlights the importance of involving law enforcement since child porn is, of couse, a crime when investigating sexting.

However, it also pushes sexting into a “crime and punishment” area that may make educators NOT want to get involved…but should educators be?

Nancy Willard, eloquent on a variety of cybersafety issues, points out the following in an email distributed to the WWWEDU list on 12/3/2009:

I have written an article for the American Association of School Administrators on sexting. In this I recommend that they meet with law enforcement, preferably at the state level, and develop approved protocols for school officials to follow when they are presented with these images. I also recommend that they make sure that emotional support system is in place for any student whose image has gone “viral.” But this situation occurred pretty early in the emergence of this new phenomonon. So as much as I am sure the school officials were concerned, I am pretty sure they had no idea what to do. These are very difficult situations for them to handle.

To summarize, my understanding of Nancy’s recommendations are as follows:

  1. School administrators meet with law enforcement at the state level.
  2. At that meeting, develop approved protocols for school officials to follow when they are presented with images.
  3. Ensure an emotional support system is in place for any students whose image has been spread widely.
This advice certainly makes sense to me. What else do you think schools and parents could do?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure