Last night I learned by watching MyCFN News and WANDTV (NBC-17), and by reading the Taylorville Daily News this morning, that Taylorville schools have had three instances this year and at least one last year of 'sexting' (snapping nude or provocative photographs of themselves or others with use of their cellphone). To combat this they now have a policy expressly against sexting in order to show students that it is not acceptable. The new policy will include "language prohibiting pornographic materials or images through magazines, photographs, movies, cell phone pictures and other electronic images" ("'Sexing' Prompts Discipline Code Change in Taylorville Schools"). They will be found to be using cellphones inappropriately and having pornographic material. The principal now can expell students or, in extreme cases, call the police to handle the matter. Obviously they can only expell students if they catch them in the act of sexting.
What kinds of steps can be taken to prevent 'sexing' from a librarian's perspective? We have been talking about this. How can we create programing and a general atmosphere to encourage students know the dangers of 'sexting' beyond getting caught. Of course students may not sext because they will know that if they get caught they have severe penalties, but many kids still will (some will do it for the further thrill of possibly getting caught). How can we create a culture where students understand how much these actions could hurt them, not only today, but in the future? Springfield has a policy of no cellphones at all. Which policy do you think is better, Taylorville's or Springfield's? Those of us in schools may have this as an issue, but what should those of us in public libraries do? We can't bar cellphones since it isn't just kids in the library and there isn't the same context.
The WANDTV Newscast on 'Sexting' from April 14, 2009
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