Sexting scandal at MoCo campuses
Some female students at Pyle Middle School and Whitman High School in Montgomery County willingly posed for inappropriate photos and some students sold and bought access to the pictures and videos, resulting in a police investigation, according to a letter sent home to students today, writes The Post's Valerie Strauss on the Answer Sheet blog.
Letters were sent to Pyle and Whitman students explaining the “serious matter” and the “inappropriate use of technology.”
Though it occurred mostly off campus, Pyle Principal Michael J. Zarchin wrote in the letter that last Friday, a student had brought the pictures and videos to school on an iPod Touch.
Zarchin called Montgomery County police, who are conducting an investigation, the letter said.
Sexting has become endemic in middle and high schools around the country. According to a public survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy , 20 percent of teens -- 18 percent of boys and 22 percent of girls -- say they have electronically sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves.
Parents never think their kids will engage in such behavior, until their kids engage in such behavior.
Here’s the letter written and sent to parents by Zacharin and also sent to Whitman parents by Principal Alan Goodwin.
April 15, 2010
Dear Parents and Guardians,
The purpose of this letter is to inform you of a serious matter involving students and the inappropriate use of technology which occurred mainly off of the school campus.
Last Friday, April 9th, I learned that a student brought an I-Pod Touch to school that contained inappropriate pictures and videos, some of which were of Pyle and Whitman female students. Due to the nature of the images, I contacted the Montgomery County Police, and they are in the process of conducting a formal investigation.
We also conducted a formal school investigation to determine the degree to which inappropriate behavior occurred at school. During our investigation, students reported that Pyle and Whitman female students willingly posed for pictures and sent them to other students. They also indicated that all of the inappropriate photographs and videos were taken outside of school and were forwarded by cell phones and email attachments to other students.
In some cases, students sold and purchased access to the inappropriate materials. Some of those transactions occurred at Pyle during the schoolday.
Administrators spoke with many students who had information about the inappropriate materials and contacted the parents of female students whose images were said to have been viewed. Parents of students who purchased or sold access to the materials during the school day were informed of consequences their children received for their involvement in this situation. There is no indication that school computers were used to view, send, or receive the inappropriate materials.
This has been a challenging investigation which has taken several days to complete and I wanted to notify you as soon as our investigation was finished.
In the April Pyle Phyle (available on the school website), I expressed concerns about trends in the student use of technology. The inappropriate use of cell phones, social networking sites, email, and general internet use can seriously affect our learning environment.
Over the past three years, we have informed students, staff, and parents about internet safety through assemblies, parent seminars, round table discussions and classroom lessons. Our focus has been on addressing the use of technology in a positive and productive manner. We remain steadfast in our commitment to confront these challenges and will do everything possible to raise awareness and ensure that our students and school community can learn from this experience.
We also encourage you to discuss cyber safety with your child. The MCPS website has helpful information at the following link: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/info/cybersafety/
Please contact me or our counseling department if you have additional questions.
Sincerely, Michael J. Zarchin, Principal
Washington Post editors
| April 15, 2010; 6:00 PM ET
Tags: High school, Middle school, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Montgomery County Maryland
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