Sexting Shouldn’t Result in Expulsion

Kate Wolffe, Feature Editor

We’ve all heard about them. They’re spoken about in hushed tones in hallways, and the gossip that stems from them stands as a testament to how cruel teenagers can be. Nude pictures, “nudes” as they’re called, can start as deluded attempts to connect with a significant other, but with the technology of today’s modern society, can spread like wildfire, and morph into tools for blackmail and humiliation.

The fact is that the exchange of “nudes,” otherwise known as “sexting,” is a prevalent problem at Miramonte. It is sickening that students have whole folders in their phones dedicated to naked pictures of their classmates. It’s discouraging that girls (and boys too, although less frequently) believe it’s a good idea to send explicit photos of themselves into cyberspace.

The subsequent spreading of these images is something that is as inevitable as it is damaging. The resulting impact can have a variety of effects, all of which are detrimental to a student’s education.

In 2011, the California state legislature added a bill that targeted “sexting” in schools. Senate Bill SB919 states that students caught,“sending or receiving sexually explicit pictures or video by means of an electronic act” can be penalized by expulsion.

Essentially, students guilty of sending nude photos of themselves or others at school can be expelled. While sending out naked photographs is, of course, not the wisest decision a teen can make, the bill is a misguided measure. Instead of punishing students for exploring their natural sexual curiosity, California legislation should focus on guiding students to make better choices.

Sexting is clearly an issue that needs to be stopped, but not through direct expulsion, as Senate Bill SB919 proposes. It seems to be a purely punitive measure. Instead of educating students about the social and lawful repercussions of sending out nude photos of themselves, California lawmakers are severely punishing students for making a bad decision, a decision that is commonplace among teens.

As opposed to SB919, California schools should focus on educating and creating awareness around the topic of “sexting” and how students can prevent technology from adversely affecting their life. As it stands, many schools, Miramonte for one, have no curriculum that covers the topic of sexual curiosity in the cyberage.

The themes of drugs, alcohol and eating disorders are covered during freshman year physical education and reintroduced throughout the years, but there is very little on the topic of “sexting,” one of Miramonte’s most pressing issues in this technologically advanced age.

If a school is prepared to kick out students for sending out explicit photographs, it should at least be there to teach students why it’s a bad decision.

And sexting is a bad decision.

Under California law, individuals who distribute, possess or produce a sexually explicit image of a minor could be charged under the state’s child pornography statutes.

If the individual is tried as an adult, and is convicted, they could receive up to six years in jail and will generally be required to register as a sex offender.

The consequences of sending a “nude” clearly outweigh the benefits of a brief feeling of connection and empty validation. However, the way to show this to students is not the ominous threat of expulsion, but through education and awareness.