Sexted by a Student

It could happen.

You open a text and for a split second you see the nude body of a teen. You quickly close the text. What next? Do you delete it immediately? –show it to their parents? –contact the authorities? –contact your supervisor? Here are some things to consider

Possessing Child Pornography

Yes it is.

In January 2014, a 17-year-old girl from Saanich, B.C., was found guilty of possessing and distributing child pornography a year after she was caught sexting nude photos of her boyfriend’s underage ex-girlfriend to her friends.

What do you do if you receive a sext from one of your students I ask a graduating youth ministry class last week.

The debate was intense. Half of the students in my class argued strongly that you should delete nothing. They felt that the entire thread needed to be preserved to prove that you did not solicit the image. Others argued intensely that they would not want child pornography on their phone for even a minute. One student argued that she wouldn’t want to be tempted to take a second look.

Most thought that the liklihood of this every happening was very low. I don’t think so…

One study of middle school students found that 20% had received a sext and 5% had sent one.

Here’s what a Canadian study found. While statistics on the frequency and scope of sexting among Canadian youth are scant, a 2014 MediaSmarts survey on media use by 5,436 Canadian students across the country from Grades 4 to 11 found that 15 per cent of the Grade 11 students surveyed had sent a sext, and 36 per cent said they had received one.

If you think that you will never receive one you may be very surprised. So think ahead. Here are some of the options. 

 Just a warning?

Is this really an option? Delete the picture and warn the student that even this was meant as a joke it constitutes distributing child pornography and is considered a felony. The student says that it will never happen again. You try to move on forgive and forget. What if it happens a second time? What if they tell their friends that they did this? What if the parents, or your supervisor find out that you let them off on a warning.

Just the parents?

In this scenario you keep the picture on your phone and you show the parents as proof that it really happened. The parents can step in and restrict the student’s use of the phone. They may be aware that they are using this as a way to relate to others. They may want to receive snap chat or other apps from their phone that make sexting easy.

Bring in the Authorities?

You are concerned that your service provider or another third party could be aware of the transmission. Rather than be frightened that this will come to light you act to prove your innocence. You show the text thread to the authorities and turn over the phone to them as evidence. They will contact the student and the family. Will the student be charged or receive a warning for a first offence?

Aaron Fuller of Knoxville police says “A potential penalty is being charged with sexual exploitation of a minor,”  “It’s an aggravated misdemeanor that could land them on the sex offender registry.”“Our message to kids is, it’s not worth it,” Fuller warns.

Does Your Church/ Agency have a policy?

Some agencies do not allow leaders to send or receive texts from students. In this case it should never happen. If you have snapchat you do not add students.

If your church doesn’t have a policy, now’s the time to get something in place before you have an incident.

Here is one teacher’s response:

I would go to my administration and have the incident reported just to make sure that my administrative team is in the loop in the event that something does transpire. I would not want for me to keep it to myself and the student or the parent finds out of the events and then try to attack me or the school for that matter. I would then have a one-on-one with the student and his/her parents and explain what s/he did and question why s/he did it and let them know of the consequences of their actions. Getting the parents involved may probably elicited some disciplinary action at home which can result with the student’s technology being taken away as punishment.

I also came across a really great Youth Specialties blog that they borrowed from another blogger. Here are a ton of resources to help give you some more direction. Ultimately you want a policy that allows you to contact students in a safe manner.

THE DEFINITIVE LIST OF CHURCH SOCIAL MEDIA POLICIES

This post originally appeared on DARREL’S BLOG and we thought it was so wonderful that we wanted to share it too!


Church social media policies aren’t exactly on the top of everyone’s to-do list, but your church needs one. You need a church social media policy not only to protect your church, but also to protect your staff. Policies are neither fun nor exciting, but they’re a necessity for your church.

Below you will find a list of social media policy generators, templates, and examples from various churches and associations. Some of these examples cover a wide range of topics and others cover just the basics. Hopefully, this list will give you a starting point to create your own social media policy for your church.

POLICY GENERATORS

TEMPLATES

CHURCH SOCIAL MEDIA POLICIES

Is there a church social media policy that you think should be on this list?


darrellg_headshotDARREL GIRARDIER is the Digital Strategy Director for Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, TN. He’s married to the wonderful Amy-Jo Giardier and blogs about digital strategy, resources, and more at DARRELGIRARDIER.COM.

 

 

 Do you think that it goes far enough? Too Far? I’d love to get your thoughts.

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Ron Powell

ronpowell

Ron Powell is the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email ron.powell@vanguardcollege.com

2 Comments

  1. Charlessays:

    Ron, you bring up a good issue to be discussed, but leave it vaguely open ended. Where do we go from here? What should a good policy state and stipulate? What resources are available to help leaders take the next steps? Please answer these questions to take this blog posting to the next level. I look forward to your responses.

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