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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

Tuesday, July 2, 2024: : This afternoon: A meeting about the use of social media and the impact and consequences of Sexting. Presented by two young women involved in the process of restorative justice


This afternoon: A meeting about the use of social media and the impact and consequences of Sexting. Presented by two young women involved in the process of restorative justice.



Where: Knox Presbyterian/Thanksgiving Lutheran church

1650 W. Third St. Santa Rosa, CA 95401


When: 6:00PM and is non-religious.


Dear Ones: As you know, several of us have been actively involved in a process called restorative justice -- a process that, when it works best, focuses on the needs of the victim of some crime or hurt. We meet in a circle with both the person who has done the harm and the person who has been victimized. This system of justice is designed to hold the perpetrator accountable for his/her actions and to hear the voices of both victim and perpetrator. We meet in a circle and volunteers take the role of community members who discuss the impact of the crime on the wider community.


It's a restorative process in which we try to repair the harm on a human level without the adversarial system of justice we're used to.


A few weeks ago we met over a case in which two young women used social media to create harm by sharing nude photos of a fellow student (sexting). They took responsibility for their actions, discussed the harm they created and agreed on a series of actions to mitigate the harm as much as they could. As part of their plan for restoring the community, they would like to meet with us, briefly share their story and describe the lessons they've learned from their experience. It takes a lot of guts to meet with a group and speak out. I honor their commitment to the process of restorative justice.



Here's a note explaining what the young women would like to discuss with us from Jane Weil, the Programs and Training Director of Restorative Resources:

 

I think the two of them want to introduce what they did but don’t want to focus on sexting alone. They want to talk more broadly about teens and their use of social media: why they’re drawn to it, how they use it, the risks and dangers to be aware of and how to notice if youth are showing signs of risky behaviors.


They want to address relationship issues too - peer pressure, healthy / unhealthy relationships and what parents can look for in their teens as concerning behaviors and what to do about it. One wants to talk more about social media, one wants to talk more about mental health and healthy relationships. Both will address lessons learned, things parents can learn to help guide their kids; and warning signs of risky behaviors that they should be alert to. 

  • Jane Weil, Programs and Training Director of Restorative Resources


I encourage you to invite friends and family to this meeting

Where: Knox Presbyterian &Thanksgiving Lutheran Churches

1650 W. Third St. Santa Rosa, CA 95401


When: 6:00PM



More about Sexting:

Several years ago, the word “sexting” was not part of American vernacular. Unfortunately, in the past year, the word has become a part of our society, permeating news articles as a description of a disturbing trend: teenagers sending sexually explicit photos of themselves and other teens using their cell phones.

 

The Unfortunate Consequences of Sexting

 

The trend became the focus of increased attention after a high school student’s suicide in July 2008 was attributed to sexting. Jessica Logan, a senior at an Ohio high school, had sent nude photos of herself to a boyfriend.

 

After the relationship ended, her ex-boyfriend sent the photos to other female students at Logan’s school, which resulted in months of harassment and teasing for Logan. Logan reported, according to MSNBC, that the other girls called her a "slut" and a "whore," and that the teasing was so disruptive that she began to skip school. Logan hung herself one month after her high school graduation.

 

Logan’s parents recently filed suit against the high school and several other defendants, alleging that the school and the local police did not do enough to protect their daughter from being bullied and harassed, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer.

 

According to a recent study commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com, “20 percent of teenagers have taken nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves and sent them to someone or posted them online,” reports the New York Times blog Gadgetwise. Most of these photos are sent to either a boyfriend or girlfriend or to someone with whom the student hopes to have a relationship.

 



How Public Schools Are Responding to Sexting

 

Public school officials across the country are taking steps to raise student and parent awareness about the problems associated with sexting. The Pennsylvania-based Herald-Mail reports that one school district has decided to conduct a series of seminars on sexting for parents and students at the district’s high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools.

 

The Herald-Mail quotes Chambersburg Area Senior High School Assistant Principal Brian Hostetler, who explained that “students don’t realize that sexting is not just wrong but illegal.” The seminars, which started off with a televised program that was broadcast into classrooms before the winter 2009 holiday break, will highlight the potential legal and emotional ramifications of sexting.

 

In October 2009, the American Association of School Administrators addressed the issue of sexting in an article that called sexting “a new challenge for parents and educators.” The article advises that schools develop “serious, comprehensive Internet safety education for youth,” modeled on such public-awareness campaigns as Think Before You Post, a project of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Ad Council, and the U.S. Department of Justice that aims to educate teenagers on safe and responsible use of digital technologies.

 

What Parents Can Do


In a recent report on the sexting problem, U.S. News and World Report offers several action steps that parents can take to help protect their children from being hurt by sexting. Parents who wish to prevent the types of hurt feelings, embarrassment, legal action, and tragedy that sexting can create should consider the following steps:

 

Teach students that there is no such thing as privacy in the age of the Internet. Remind your children that any photo that they send or give someone can become public, even if they originally sent the photo in a private e-mail or text message. Encourage students to avoid sending any photos that they would feel uncomfortable being widely distributed.

 

Use your cell phone plan to protect your kids. Cell phone service providers offer parents the option of choosing to block their children’s phones from receiving any images.

 

Tell students to delete any explicit pictures that others may send them. Tell students about the terrible consequences that have arisen from teenagers forwarding naked pictures that they were originally sent by girlfriends or boyfriends. Sending other people’s explicit photographs is considered pornography, and sending photographs that depict nudity in someone under 18 can be considered distributing child pornography.

 

Be frank and open with students about the problems that can arise with social media use.

 

Adolescents are often more impulsive and less rational than adults, and with the fierce social pressures that exist in a typical high school, the combination can result in acts of cruelty. Cell phones and social networking sites such as Facebook or Myspace are unfortunately used by teenagers for purposes of harassing or tormenting their peers.

 

Encourage your teenager to visit the website ThatsNotCool.com, which features videos and advice for teenagers about how to deal with online harassment, pressure to send naked pictures, and excessive text messaging, among other issues.

 

With the continued popularity of smart phones and social networking, sexting will not be a word that will fade away from our vernacular in the near future. However, by taking proactive steps in educating your children about the dangers of sexting, you can prevent them from becoming victims.

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