NORMAN — Q: I am a teacher in a local district. The other day, I walked up to a group of students (male) who were circled up in the hall. To make a long story short, they were looking at a cell phone that had a picture of the owner’s naked girlfriend. I didn’t look at it, but I heard them discussing it. Please let everyone know that this is a huge deal that is becoming more and more common.
— Name Withheld by Request
A: We couldn’t agree more. The rise in “sexting” is phenomenal. The embarrassment and tears caused for both males and females, as well as reputations ruined and hurt to families, continue to amaze us.
What we think students don’t understand is if you send a picture of yourself, it is not just going to the person it was sent to. As in your case, there is a group looking and laughing.
Both boys and girls are eager to share these prized possessions of even their closest relationships, not realizing that charges can be filed for possession of pornography and sexual harassment. We could fill this entire page with horror stories of “trusting” people who thought no one else would see their picture.
Everyone needs to work on the assumption that if something is sent, it’s being shared and could possibly end up on the Internet.
Thanks for writing in and for all you do in the world of education.
Q: I am 16 years old, and I just found out I’m pregnant. I haven’t told anybody yet because I guess I’m still in shock. I really don’t know what to do. Can you help me at all?
— Name Withheld
A: You’re shocked? Excuse us for sounding like mothers, which we are, but if you’re sexually active, then you know that pregnancy is a definite possibility. We hope you didn’t actually think it wouldn’t happen to you. Now that it has, the first thing you need to do is talk to your parents.
Yes, you need to be prepared for them to be angry, hurt and disappointed — they have a right to be. However, they will be your biggest support, so you need to trust them. In addition, you need to see your family physician as soon as possible. Your physician, along with your parents, can help you explore your options.
You also need to stay in school. The various districts will have different programs for girls in your situation. We urge you not to just focus on your immediate circumstance but to see the importance of your education to your future.
Jeannie and Sally are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily represent the views of any certain school district. Please send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.