Did the school cross the line...Sexting?

[deleted account] ( 10 moms have responded )


did the school go to far by looking at the pictures on this girls phone after they had a good reason to confiscate it...because she was making a call on school property....

imo I think they were right to take the phone but not to look through the pictures, they had no part of what she was doing wrong on school grounds...it was a seperate issue entirely...would I be prould if that was my daughter, NO...but it was not the schools right to look through the pictures.


[deleted account]

Yes it was wrong, but then the school is in a tough position. What if a 30 something man had been sending naked pictures of himself to her phone? Everyone would then be asking why the school didn't look through the pictures on her phone and protect this girl when they had the chance? Why did the school fail this girl? bla bla bla. It's another no win situation.

Jaime - posted on 05/24/2010




The lady in the purple sweater (I didn't catch her name when I was watching the video) brought up a very good point "technology ahead of their judgment". Although this girl might have felt her rights were violated, she wasn't fully aware of the consequences of having those photos on her phone. I don't know that they had a reasonable suspicion to open up the phone and look at the pictures, but it's possible they did. If it was merely a matter of them confiscating the phone for her violation of school policies, then they had no grounds to view the photos. I think the onus is on the student to really understand the risks she takes having racy pictures on her phone that can easily be accessed by the public...but if parents are just going to hand out cell phones for the sake of convenience then kids aren't really understanding the full scope of responsibility that goes along with owning a cell phone and are more likely to dismiss potential consequences.

Emma - posted on 05/30/2010




Her phone was confiscated because she was making a call not texting so there was no reason to look at the pics on the phone,
So they technically overstepped the line.
If i was the girls parent i would not be upset with the school for looking as it led to the discovery of very dangerous behaviour with long term implications to the girls life, implications she obviously has no understanding of herself.
these kids don't seem to get that by taking a pic of themselves and distributing it falls under child pornography and distribution, those images once sent are out there forever and could come back to bite them later,

Valerie - posted on 05/28/2010




Here is where too often schools are trapped between a rock and a hard place...the expectations have risen as such that much of society look to schools to fix practically everything. Fix society's ills, teach them basic social skills, teach them academics, discipline them, protect them from evil, etc. Unfortunately too often parents seem to have the expectation that once the kid is on school grounds that child is "not their problem" (I have had parents say that to me at parent-teacher conferences.) Thus the schools are having to step up their game as far as rules, restrictions, and invasion of personal privacy.
Here is my issue....much of what is chucked at schools I feel shouldn't be. Too often we are quick to be angry at my school but in other situations we want them to parent our kids. Well, that is what this is. IMO the mother should be the one responsible for dealing with her daughter with regards to these pictures. That's her job as a mom. But when we start to say that the schools should teach our kids about sex, the schools should give our kids counseling, etc and often without our knowledge than I really can't then turn around and yell at the schools for this.

Overall I feel that we as Moms need to be telling the schools, "This is my kid, I'll raise him/her" I know my child best, and spend the most time with him/her, and I ultimately should be responsible for anything that is not illegal/against school policy. I don't think they should have looked at her phone, and if they did it should warrant a conference with the parents. Let them decide how to proceed.

But ultimately while I disagree with what happened I'm not mad at the school for doing what really is an attempt to protect this girl.

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JuLeah - posted on 09/08/2011




Kids have been charged with sexual misconduct, labled sex offender, even done time .... taking a photo of yourself is legal, sending it over the net if you are under 18 is child porn - by law

Kids lives have been so damaged with this type of stuff

Amber - posted on 05/25/2010




The very beginning of this video says that it is the "same student, same sexting issues". Because of this statement, I believe that they did have a good reason to look. If she had never been in trouble for sexting before, I would say absolutely not. But when you are a repeat offender, you simply do not have the same trustworthiness of a student who has never been in trouble.
She should stop storing naughty pics of herself on school grounds. Or at least not use her phone on school grounds. Don't break the rules and you won't have a reason to be upset.

Suzette - posted on 05/24/2010




Schools are allowed to search based upon reasonable suspicion, however, that reasonable suspicion is usually involved when it comes to weapons or contraband. Is a phone considered contraband? Yes. Does this school define what contraband is to them? Most likely, and I doubt it's a cell phone. Even if they do, they confiscated it because she was talking on it, unless they overheard the conversation and it was about something illegal, they had no "reasonable suspicion" to open it up.

In the Missouri Center for Safe Schools they notate the Supreme Court Ruling in regard to reasonable suspicion.

"In order for a search to be reasonable, it must ordinarily be based upon individualized suspicion of wrongdoing. The test for determining the reasonableness of searches in the school setting was set out by the United States Supreme Court in New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985). In that case, a student was caught smoking in the bathroom and was taken to the principal's office. When questioned by the assistant principal, the student denied that she had been smoking. He demanded to see her purse, opened it, and found a pack of cigarettes. As he reached into the purse for the cigarettes, he also noticed a pack of rolling papers. Suspecting that she might have marijuana, he dug deeper into the purse and uncovered marijuana, a pipe, empty plastic bags, a wad of one dollar bills, a list of students who owed her money, and two letters implicating her in marijuana dealing. The student was charged with delinquency and challenged the legality of the search. Her case was ultimately appealed to the United States Supreme Court which held that the search was legal. The Court noted that students have a legitimate expectation of privacy in their persons and their possessions. This privacy interest must be balanced against the substantial interest of schools in maintaining discipline in the classroom and on school grounds. Therefore, the legality of a search of a student depends on the reasonableness of the search under all the circumstances. A search is reasonable if (1) it was justified at its inception; and (2) it was reasonably related in scope to the suspected conduct.

Under ordinary circumstances, a search of a student by a school official will be justified at its inception when there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has broken the law or a school rule. Such a search is permissible in its scope when the measures adopted are reasonably related to the objectives of the search and not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the intrusion."


The ACLU of PA also clarifies reasonable suspicion. "If a student has been caught breaking a school rule or the law, a school official may have a reasonable suspicion that a search of the student’s backpack or locker will produce evidence related to the infraction. A tip from a reliable source also may provide school officials with reasonable suspicion. And if a school employee sees students behaving in an unusual or suspicious manner, that may provide reasonable suspicion for a search of that student’s backpack or locker."


They already had the phone, so there was nothing to search for in relation to the infraction. (Again, unless they overheard something related to an illegal event.)

[deleted account]

IDK... I think that if the school suspected "sexting" on school grounds, then yes, they had a right to look. Too bad for her she had a previous incident that gave the school reason to suspect.

April - posted on 05/24/2010




yes, they crossed the line. it's okay to confiscate the phone but not look through her pictures or messages. it would be a different thing entirely if it was an emergency and they needed to find someone in her contacts or something like that.

LaCi - posted on 05/24/2010




Absolutely WRONG. You may have a rule in place that allows you to confiscate property, but this is illegal search. If he wanted to look through her phone he needed a search warrant. The principal should be punished, and the DA who threatened people with child porn charges AND distributed the pictures needs to be dealt with.

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