MIAMI—Underage teens are "sexting" all over America and around the world, sending provocative messages and nude photos via mobile devices. And now, Florida's Miami-Dade school district wants to do something about it.
Thursday, school Superintendent Alberto Carvalho proposed working with both government and law enforcement to create a policy to deal with sexting and warn students of the dangers, which range from emotional damage to violating child porn laws.
"This is to protect kids, to make them aware of the legal implications of some of their virtual transactions," Carvalho said.
The Miami Herald called it "safe sex for the wireless generation."
As previously reported by AVN.com, this year alone has seen teens in various states charged for sending nude photos to each other via phones.
In Pennsylvania, six teenagers were charged with child porn felonies while one teen in Florida's Broward County was ordered by a court to register as a sex offender.
Should the school board approve moving ahead with the plan, sexting education would be integrated into the regular curriculum and include appropriate use of technology and issues of self-respect and consideration for one's peers, the newspaper said.
Teachers would receive special training under the plan, and parents would be asked to become involved as well.
"As parents, we have to realize this is something that's going on,'' said Mindy Gould of the Miami-Dade Council of PTAs/PTSAs. "I'm glad the district is taking a strong position."
Sexting is not going away. According to a survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, one in five U.S. teenagers said they had sent nude photographs or videos of themselves. Also, such explicit photos are sometimes passed from friend to friend. Worse, even some preteens have been found sexting.
As with many school districts, Miami-Dade allows students to have mobile phones at school, but they must be turned off during class. Some have suggested their use should not be allowed at all during school hours, unless there is an emergency.
Broward County district warns that any camera phone used to take pornographic or obscene pictures will be confiscated, with other possible consequences.
"They shouldn't be doing it anyway," said Broward school board member Robin Bartleman. "They need to know that there are serious penalties."
The Miami-Dade school board will vote on the proposed policy at its meeting next Wednesday.
The ACLU came to the defense of teens charged under child porn laws in Pennsylvania for texting, as reported in March by AVN.com.
"Teens are stupid and impulsive and clueless," said an ACLU legal director. "But that doesn't make them criminals."