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Nude photo of student puts another N.J. middle school at center of sexting incident

cellphone052011_optBY ALICIA CRUZ
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

New Jersey schools are dealing with another nude photo incident involving a student. This time, it's an Eisenhower Middle School student in Wyckoff. Officials announced the students involved had until yesterday to delete the photo or face consequences.

An argument amongst four students prompted an investigation by schoolteachers who found the nude photo of the 13-year-old student on a cell phone, and telephoned police. While there are no plans to inspect the students cell phones, Police Chief Benjamin Fox told the Record any students in possession of the photo after May 19 could be charged with endangering the welfare of a child or possession of child pornography, FoxNews reported.

Almost a week ago, nude photos of a Reynolds Middle School student took of herself for her boyfriend began appearing on the cell phones of other students after the young couple broke off their relationship. The nude photos may have even gone viral.

The Hamilton Township, Mercer County school administrators appear to be trying to keep the incident from blowing up. Principal Joseph Slavin told ABC News that any comment on the incident would have to come from the Superintendent’s office, but calls from ABC to the office have gone unanswered.

According to ABC, New Jersey State Police detective Cy Bleistine said once the photo made its way from one friend who then told ten friends, the picture is "gone." New Jersey State Police want to warn parents, and their children.

Any photo, especially an inappropriate photo can circulate from one person to the world within seconds and once it's out there, it's out there forever. A foolish act of indiscretion that makes its way to the World Wide Web can cause a lifetime of regret. Children don't really think of that when they're circulating such items.

State police are cautioning people that New Jersey has a law making it illegal to transmit sexually explicit photos without the consent of the person in them. The kids who are doing it could be prosecuted if caught.

Disseminating sexually suggestive photos, called "sexting" when done by cell phone, has become a nationwide problem for parents, school administrators and law enforcers.

In 2008, seven Pascack Valley High School freshmen students were suspended for the rest of the school year after officials say they disbursed racy photos of middle school students via cell phones and school-issued laptops. Teachers were made aware of the incident by another student and alerted Hillsdale police, district Superintendent Benedict Tantillo III, NorthJersey.com reported.

The photos featured more than 20 students in vary states of undress from the waist up, with their bare breasts exposed. Incidents of teenagers distributing vulgar or sexually explicit cell phone pictures of themselves have surfaced in several cities across the United States. Psychologists say the phenomenon reflects young hormones and impulsivity, with technology increasing the potential for long-term humiliation. It may also reflect a vogue for exhibitionism, as demonstrated on MySpace, YouTube and other websites, NorthJersey.com reported, according to freerepublic.com.

In 2009, following a tip from The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to state task force officials, who alerted the Passaic County Sheriff's Office, a 14-year-old New Jersey girl was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography after posting nearly 30 lewd photos of herself on MySpace.com, reported the New York Daily News.

Maureen Kanka, the mother of Megan, the child who was raped and killed at age seven in 1994 by a twice convicted sex offender and for whom "Megan's Law" was name for, criticized authorities for charging the 14-year-old girl saying the teenager needed counseling and guidance, not prosecution.

Kanka stated that the incident, should not have fell under Megan's Law because the only person the girl exploited was herself.

 

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