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View Full Version : Sexting in the Suburbs: Cops Called to Maryland Middle School



PoliCon
04-17-2010, 01:06 AM
On Friday, The Washington Post reported that some nice middle-class kids at the nice suburban middle school my children attend in Montgomery County, Md., are under police investigation for sexting and according to their principal, Michael Zarchin, for trafficking in naked photos and videos of 8th grade girls.

Pyle Middle School is one of the best public schools in the state -- nothing like the rundown, under-resourced "dropout factories" I saw depicted in the new documentary "Waiting for Superman," at a screening just last night. In the main, the teachers and administration there are both caring and competent. Every third parent is a lawyer, and so invested in their children that at our first parent night in the district, my husband and I found kind of scary the throng of attentive adults demanding to be informed the very instant their little prodigies were moved into the top reading group.

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Just recently, we got word that Zarchin had won the principal of the year award, in part for strong community outreach. In the school's most recent newsletter, he'd warned kids to use some discretion on the Internet -- and in the letter e-mailed to parents yesterday, said he was sorry to have been right to worry.

This sort of thing is happening all over the country, of course, but a relative handful of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 say they have actually sent out naked photos of themselves only four percent, according to a study done last year by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. So what are we to make of this unsettling incident?

First, I feel sad for those involved, for what would seem to be a lack of self-respect. Of course, even in the best schools and homes, teenagers will find a way to get into trouble; they're innovators in that way, and you might even say that's their job.

Though way back when I was in 8th grade, girls who had breasts were not particularly eager for anyone to notice, that was not always such a great thing, either. And I'm not sure this is as much about exhibitionism as about access to technology our kids are just not ready for; isn't arming every adolescent with a flip cam an invitation to them to imitate the behavior they see on every billboard and reality show?

Karen Judson, the president of our PTA, was quoted in the Post as saying the incident had certainly confirmed her own decision not to allow her son to text or go on Facebook. I commend her, but wonder even after this incident how many of the rest of us will follow suit.

And meanwhile, should incidents like this be criminalized? The rest of my family thinks calling the police in was an overreaction, but I disagree -- not because I want to see these kids further penalized, but because we see from the anti-example of my church, the Catholic Church, what comes of trying to handle allegations involving kids and sex without bringing in the authorities, or with more attention to upholding appearances than protecting minors.

Zarchin's first reaction was to call the police in to investigate whether any adults were involved -- apparently, there weren't -- and thank goodness. (He also told the kids that the girls involved were going to need everyone's support, and I give him an "A" for that, too.)
One political question does come to mind, though: At this rate, will anybody from the sexting generation dare to run for office? No matter how common this sort of self-inflicted humiliation becomes, this is young women we're talking about, and I'm sorry to say I have a hard time envisioning the day that voters won't care.http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/04/16/sexting-in-the-suburbs-cops-called-to-maryland-middle-school/

PoliCon
04-17-2010, 01:10 AM
Every third parent is a lawyer, and so invested in their children that at our first parent night in the district, my husband and I found kind of scary the throng of attentive adults demanding to be informed the very instant their little prodigies were moved into the top reading group. If they're so involved with their kids why is it that they are getting naked and posting pics to other kids without the parents noticing?? I call bullshit. Reality is the parents are too busy for their kids and only worry about the superficial things and not about the real values and standards their kids have. They view their kids as status symbols.

We had an issue with this crap here and the principal did an assembly with the parents on a Conference night - sat the parents down, explained the situation and advised them that if they're going to allow Billy and Sally to have phones with cameras - that they specifially block or closely monitor photo messaging - because like it or not - this is trafficing in child pronography under the law.