Panel Approves Plan to Give Schools More Tools to Crack Down on ‘Sexting’
2011-07-11 · By Editor
On Wednesday July 6, 2011 leaders of a state panel that sets education policy approved a plan by Sen. Ted W. Lieu, D-Torrance, to give public schools statewide the ability to suspend or expel students for electronically transmitting sexually explicit messages. “Almost all high school students and many middle school students text each other, often during school,” Sen. Ted W. Lieu, D-Torrance, said after the Assembly Education Committee approved Senate Bill 919. “But the disturbing part is that these messages are sometimes sexually explicit in nature and include photos, videos and messages, known as sexting. Fact is, sexting is now a form of relationship currency for many youths and goes far beyond what passing of notes was when I was in school.”
Lieu said many young adults are pressured to send sexually explicit messages as a way to get closer to another person. Unfortunately, what often happens is the relationship ends and the images then are distributed widely, bringing long-term social, emotional and psychological harm, either in the form of bullying or embarrassment. This has led to at least two suicides, authorities said.
According to a 2008 survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 20 percent of teens between 13 and 19 had sent or received nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves. It also showed 38 percent of teen girls and 39 percent of teen boys had shared sexually suggestive text messages or emails originally intended for someone else.
As written, SB 919 would:
- Encourage districts to provide grade-level appropriate instruction, counseling and other conflict resolution practices for students on the potential risks and consequences of creating and sharing sexually suggestive or explicit materials through cellular telephones and other electronic devices.
- Add sexting to the Interagency School Safety Demonstration Act, which encourages interagency coordination between local educational agencies, law enforcement agencies and agencies serving youths.
- Define “sexting” to mean the dissemination of, or the solicitation or incitement to disseminate, a photograph or other visual recording that depicts a minor’s exposed or visible private body parts.
- Add sexting to the list of offenses for which a pupil may be suspended or expelled.
“It is the public policy of the state to reduce and eliminate sexting so all pupils can have a safe school environment,” Lieu said.
SB 919 next faces a review by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If approved, it must return to the Senate for concurrence on amendments.
For more, including actual bill language and a Fact Sheet on SB 919, visit Lieu’s Web site at the address below.
Ted W. Lieu chairs the Senate Labor represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance, as well as portions of Long Beach, Loss Angeles and San Pedro. For more, visit www.senate.ca.gov/lieu.