Sexting – What if a School Employee Finds Your Phone

If you haven’t had a talk with your teens or pre teens about the dangers of sexting, a story in the news this week might get their attention.

teen-sextingAccording to the story, a Wichita high school student reported a missing phone, and a school resource officer responded to the report. While investigating, the resource officer came across a student with two phones and obviously thought that the extra phone could be the one. While trying to ascertain whether the extra phone belonged to the student who had reported it, the resources officer “saw” nude photos on the phone.

The police quickly became involved, although according to investigators with the Exploited and Missing Child Unit in Sedgwick County, charges will probably not be filed.

Obviously, there is a lot to not like in this story, whether you’re a parent or a teen:

  • Teens shouldn’t be sexting. It’s a bad idea
  • Phones should always have a lock screen password
  • The resources officer may have been overstepping when he started snooping through the phone (more below)
  • You do not want the Exploited and Missing Child Unit involved in your life, ever

As a teen, once you send a sexual image, you are at the mercy of the recipient to keep the photo or video out of the public eye. If you lose your phone and don’t have a home screen password, you are at the mercy of whoever finds your phone.

It goes without saying that this situation, and many like it, can be avoided entirely by teens not sexting in the first place. I’ll be telling my teens about this story over dinner tonight.

(Thoughts on the resource officer’s actions: We’re not sure what the laws or school policies are in Kansas, but we checked in with a local New Jersey Vice Principal. According to him, in NJ schools such an employee would only be permitted to search a student phone to ascertain the owner, not to look at the contents.)


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