Sexting, Oprah, and Teenagers

Last week, GeekyMom blogged about sexting and the Oprah show on sex. Both topics have been hot topics around here lately. I suppose the chattering class is all on the same page again.

A boy sent a neighbor girl a picture of a naked woman and a picture of himself without a shirt on. Later, another boy left her a phone message that said that he wanted to f@ck her. She's ten.

Our town has had some problems with pictures of teenage boys sending around pictures of their naked girlfriends using the server for the school district. There was a lot of outrage and threats that the school could be charged with the distribution of child pornography.

A student recently handed in a term paper with a highly inappropriate paragraph buried within a seemingly normal paper on political theory. He claims that a friend wrote it without his knowledge. My mom stopped by after school, and I showed her the paragraph. She was shocked that anybody could write something like that. She referenced the Oprah show and said that teenagers were being robbed of their childhoods by the experts on Oprah and that it was leading to all types of deviant behavior.

Mom was particularly upset about the sexologist who advised women to buy vibrators for their teenager daughters.

I'm more concerned about these incidents than GeekyMom, but less concerned than my mom. Sexting is harassment. It is done to intimidate and frighten the recipient. The person who sends it gets off on intimidating the other. And technology has opened up new doors for harassment. I'm not sure if this is a widespread problem, as my mom believes. After watching that Oprah show, Mom was so upset that she offered to pay for my kids to attend Catholic schools.

We discussed this issue in the past, but these incidents have made me concerned again.

39 thoughts on “Sexting, Oprah, and Teenagers

  1. “Later, another boy sent her a phone message that said that he wanted to f@ck her. She’s ten. ”
    Why does she have a cell phone to receive such messages on?

  2. Totally, Wendy. Jonah will not be getting a cell phone. EVER. But people seem to think that every kid has the right to a cell phone. And wouldn’t you take your kid’s cell phone away if something like this happened three times? Of course. Yet, the girls’ parents let her keep the phone.

  3. Because her parents want to hear from her when she gets home from school late, or contact her when they are unavoidably late.
    You’ll not be surprised that I think your mum sounds like an admirably sound woman. Perhaps you will be surprised that I think you should consider the offer.

  4. Well, 10 does seem young, but I sympathise with parents letting their kids have a phone (our #1 got one at 12 — pay-as-you-go, dead cheap, completely uncool, unstealable, but a phone) because it gives us a way of knowing what is going on when, to give yesterday’s example, she is nearly late for something because the bus driver got lost on the way home (I’m not kidding).

  5. The Mom Solution may not help, Harry. Friends who went through them report that sexuality was even steamier in the Catholic schools because of the added frisson of repression.
    That the schools might possibly have been charged with distributing child pornography suggests that there is something wrong with the laws. (My sense, after following the fringes of computer/hacking/other nefarious deeds and law enforcement for nearly two decades now, is that these laws are always overly broad and that that is pretty much always a bad idea.)
    Did I write a high school term paper on Lady Chatterly, Tropic of Cancer and obscenity prosecutions? Indeed I did.
    (I hope that your comment next to the inappropriate paragraph was a big red ‘WTF?’ Maybe it’ll teach the kid to proofread the final copy.)

  6. There are kiddie phones available with special features like being able to limit outgoing and incoming calls.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16044093/
    That article is from 2006, so I’m sure there have been improvements since then. Note that if you’re REALLY protective, you can set some cells up to track a child’s movements.
    By the way, what does the criminal justice system think about threatening phone calls? Couldn’t the perp wind up on a predator list for calling up a 10-year-old girl?

  7. What if the perp is a 10 year old boy and this is a wide spread problem? That’s the issue.
    My friends who have teenage kids with cell phone secretly monitor all of their kids’ text messages and incoming phone calls.
    Laughing at your paper topic, Doug. That was my reaction when I read the first sentence. By the end of paragraph, I had moved towards revulsion.
    Doug, I made the same argument about Catholic schools when my mom brought up.

  8. Bloody hell, Laura, I hope none of your friends’ teenagers read 11d, or you’ve just really put your foot in it.
    Doug — point taken. Laura — compare the actual options.
    Actually, having followed the links, I’m not as outraged as your mum about the sexologist’s suggestion (and geeky mom seems entirely sensible about the school incident too). It all depends on the parent and the kid. I’m not about to do it myself.

  9. “What if the perp is a 10 year old boy and this is a wide spread problem? That’s the issue.”
    Time to get a kiddie restraining order (if that is legally possible) and get the juvenile justice system involved, I think, at least if the perp’s parents aren’t cooperative and effusively apologetic. (No phone or unsupervised computer until you turn 18, kid.)

  10. “The Mom Solution may not help, Harry. Friends who went through them report that sexuality was even steamier in the Catholic schools because of the added frisson of repression.”
    That’s the impression I’m getting from other families here, too — I won’t go so far as to say its worse, but it seems rather foolish to assume it will be better. As Laura points out, this is more about harassment that about sex, and, as far as sex goes, human teenagers are probably pretty similar (regardless of whether they’re in a catholic school or not).
    It’s got to be possible to limit the numbers that a phone can call/receive. The problem, I think, is that it’s tough to know when to use them. My 8 year old has an email address, and actually uses it. I monitor the email (i.e. I download it on my computer as well). I also limit the addresses from which she can receive email (it prevents her from signing up for online offers, for example). But, I don’t think I’ll feel that it’s appropriate for me to read all her emails soon — at some point, she’ll have a right to private conversations with her friends (I think I’ll base this on when she actually uses email to talk with friends, which hasn’t happened yet). The blocking isn’t easy to use, though, especially since people use multiple email addresses, so adding one doesn’t mean they can communicate with my daughter when they need to.

  11. My kid, 13, has a pay as you go cellphone. He is way uncool with his friends, but he’s not receiving naked pictures, which I think he’s okay with. My daughter, 9, does not have a cell phone and won’t until she’s at least 13. Many of her friends do. Middle school brings its own set of challenges in terms of random after school activities, sports, wanting to go to friends’ houses. Combine that with 2 working parents and well, a cellphone makes a lot of sense. Neither of our kids are begging us for phones. They both get that they’re expensive and really rarely needed.
    I’m concerned about these incidents. I just think that the approach most schools are taking is wrong-headed. I agree that some of these incidents could constitute harassment, but my sense is that the schools aren’t taking each incident on a case by case basis. They’re trying to come up with an approach the captures everything. From what I’ve seen, sexting has taken many forms, from pretty innocent to seriously problematic.
    I may not buy my daughter a vibrator, but I’m sure as hell going to tell her something about sex before she actually has it. Seriously, my mom finally talked to me about sex after I was already active. Same for the sex ed class. About half of us were bored out of our minds because we were like, yeah, been there done that. We’d figured stuff out on our own. And some of our information was inaccurate, but a lot of it wasn’t, especially by the time we were almost seniors in high school.
    I do think that teenagers are pushed to be sexually active at an earlier and earlier age. A colleague whose children (a couple of years older than mine) were at the same school warned me about girls soliciting boys to give blow jobs to them. I continually ask Geeky Boy about romantic/sexual activity among his friends. He knows distantly about some boy or girls who are dating and suspects they may be experimenting with various kinds of sexual activity, but none of his friends are doing this kind of thing yet. As he said when I asked, “I guess only two people know if anything like that is going on.” A healthy attitude, even if slightly naive. I don’t doubt they’re curious. They’re just not acting on it. I think that the curiosity is natural.
    I have more to say, I think, as we’re on the cusp of having to deal with sexual activity. It’s such a complex issue and honestly, I think everyone has to deal with it in their own way.

  12. In response to Laura/G above, I’d add that I strongly suspect that norms about sexual behaviour are quite localised, and dependent on random factors within the school. I say this based on only an anecdote. I went to two secondary schools. In the first, a good number of boys and girls in my orbit were sexually active by 13, and quite a few more by 14 (my evidence, to my mortification at the time, is not boys locker room boasting, but girls talking to me about what they were doing and with whom. They were not, I emphasize very strongly, doing anything with me, and had no thought of doing so, as evidenced by their willingness to talk to me about it). I moved to a school with a much less privileged clientele at 16, and the kids in my orbit were, with a couple of exceptions (both girls) entirely chaste for another year or so. (There was also a contrast in the drug cultures of the schools — in the first kids smoked pot, in the second they sniffed glue and took speed, but that was all about social class and money).

  13. I would rather live in a world where I have to make an extra effort to keep track of my daughter’s whereabouts than live in a world where I have to worry about her getting creepy/harassing text messages.

  14. I would rather live in a world where I have to make an extra effort to keep track of my daughter’s whereabouts than live in a world where I have to worry about her getting creepy/harassing text messages.
    Wendy’s comment is one I can entirely get behind. Of course, there is a question of time and resource commitment when one speaks of such “extra efforts,” and the opportunity to avail oneself of said time and resources are not fairly distributed. Still, if the primary obstacles to achieving such effort are things like busy after-school activity schedules, extracurricular sports, hanging out with friends, or juggling two career families, a little rethinking of priorities may not be a bad idea.

  15. “I would rather live in a world where I have to make an extra effort to keep track of my daughter’s whereabouts than live in a world where I have to worry about her getting creepy/harassing text messages.”
    But you don’t have to choose–for a younger child, you can choose one of the kid-friendly set-ups. Plus, a kid with a cell phone is less vulnerable to non-virtual threats. Take the following cases:
    1. Hey, mom, there’s this creepy guy following me around.
    2. Hey, mom, Chloe’s dad [or older brother or whatever] is being kind of weird. Could you come get me–now!
    3. Hey, mom, I wound up drinking at that party. I don’t think I can drive home safely. Can you come get me?

  16. A kid-friendly set-up is just a gateway drug. :)
    I am hard-pressed to imagine any situation where my kids would need a cell phone. The 6-year-old goes nowhere alone, but the 9-year-old goes to dance class and to friends’ houses alone. And she went to the Boston Museum of Science with her class on a sleepover. I would expect that if she was in a situation where she left dance class early, she’d sit in the pizza place next door till one of us got there. Or she’d go down to the convenience store at the end of the strip. Or she’d stand outside looking piteous (most likely scenario). I hate to sound all uncaring, but really, I don’t see the big deal. I’d have to believe she would really be in danger, rather than inconvenienced.

  17. (Btw, I am in a bad mood right now, so I’m going to keep going, damn the consequences. ;)
    1. If there’s a creepy guy following her around, let her learn how to avoid them. Stranger abduction is incredibly rare.
    1a. Also, we have some weird spotty cell service in my area. My husband can’t call me on his cell from his dad’s assisted living, the next town over.
    2. If Chloe’s dad/brother is being creepy, I have bigger problems in that I would have to doubt my judgment in a major way. I don’t let my kids into situations with anyone who pings my creep-dar, and I have a pretty sensitive creep-dar.
    3. If she’s old enough to drive, she’s old enough to get a job and buy her own stuff, like a cell phone. I’m not going to forbid my kids anything they can buy and pay for themselves. Of course, she gets $1/week allowance, so it will be an awfully long time before that’s going to happen. :)

  18. “2. If Chloe’s dad/brother is being creepy, I have bigger problems in that I would have to doubt my judgment in a major way. I don’t let my kids into situations with anyone who pings my creep-dar, and I have a pretty sensitive creep-dar.”
    A month ago, I was hearing a story through the hometown grapevine. Anyway, grandpa so-and-so was in charge of a 10-year-old granddaughter and started putting the moves on her. 10-year-old holes up in bathroom and calls step-mom on cell for help (step-mom being the only person available). Anyway, once the dust settles, it turns out that grandpa had been twice accused of rape earlier but had never been convicted. Who knew? (Well, the grandma did, but that’s another story.)
    Another thing, there aren’t a lot of pay phones in public places anymore, so not having a cell phone now is not the same as not having one back in the early 90s.

  19. I may not have got all the details correct (the grapevine being a poor medium for getting stuff exactly right).
    Anyway, when my kids are big enough to go places by themselves, I’ll feel happier if they can reach me instantly. Things (sometimes really weird things) happen, and sometimes people aren’t exactly who they seem to be.

  20. “I’d add that I strongly suspect that norms about sexual behaviour are quite localised, and dependent on random factors within the school.”
    Since N = 2 means ‘data’, I’ll second Harry by adding that this was also my experience. This difference was there even without very great variation in social class and with little variation in drug use (everybody was a Hamm’s user). We had very small class sizes, but I think two trend setters can set the tone for an entire circle.

  21. Just to second Amy P’s observation that pay phones are disappearing…
    My kids don’t have cell phones (at 9 and 6, there is really no need!) But I do. And I forget to carry it more often than not. So I look for a pay phone when I need to make the “hey I’m running late” phone call. They have all but disappeared! Most of the ones you see no longer work.
    Again, I don’t have teenagers yet, so my knowledge is very limited here – but my initial tendency is that blaming the device (cell phone) might not be the productive way to a solution.
    How do you stop the harassment, bullying, etc – regardless of the means? That is what I wonder about.

  22. We’re not really in teen culture yet. The oldest is just turning ten in June. I hear things, but we’re not in the thick of things, so I’m not sure how much hysteria is really called for.
    re: local sex norms. Totally. My high school was more worried about SAT scores than hooking up. There was some culture shock the first year of college.
    re: cell phones. I think we’ll have a community cell phone. I’ll hand it to the kids when there’s afternoons that I think it will be needed. This way nobody will have their own numbers.

  23. “re: cell phones. I think we’ll have a community cell phone. I’ll hand it to the kids when there’s afternoons that I think it will be needed. This way nobody will have their own numbers.”
    Not bad.
    (I was just having a flashback to the night in high school I spent parked on a mountain pass on the track bus about 4 or 5 hours from home with about 20 people because of a break down. I apologize for all those prepositions.)

  24. I like the community cell phone idea.
    And you know, for all that I am complaining about cell phones, I understand that the future is moving towards having everyone connected to the Internet, even in the classroom, even K-12 students. Can I refuse to allow my daughter to have an e-mail account? That raises a few issues. First, if my concern is that my daughter is vulnerable to being targeted by peers harassing her, then allowing her to have an e-mail account would make my disapproval of the cell phone kind of stupid.
    However, what I really hate about the cell phone is the constant connectedness to parents it provides. Whereas many of you see that constant connectedness as a good thing, I think it encourages dependence rather than self-reliance and learning to deal with inconvenience.
    And maybe it has to do with the fact that I hate talking on the phone or constantly being beeped with messages (which some may consider weird considering how much time I do spend online). I can’t stand the constant demands of “deal with this NOW!” Patience is a virtue I want my kids to learn. :)
    I wish my students had it, too. Especially at this time of the year, when I have incredibly needy students all demanding my attention right now (because they haven’t been paying attention all term), I welcome the freedom of being disconnected from others and free from their demands for my attention.

  25. Wendy’s point about dependence: It really depends on the kid. My 12 year old is much too self-reliant, and far too unwilling to ask for help. I don’t think it will get her into trouble in the short to medium term, but I want her to at least have the means to ask for help, and also to be able to tell us what she is doing so we are not pissed off with her for just going off when its inconvenient. (I’ll give an example of the latter, where if she’d had her cell phone with her it would have helped a lot. She had a violin rehearsal that meant a great deal to her, and was out with friend and friend’s parent, under strict instructions to get back 30 minutes before rehearsal. Friend’s parent finally gets her back 10 minutes after rehearsal starts. She knew she was late, was very anxious, but couldn’t bring herself to remind friend’s parent of the timing. If she had had the cell phone with her she could have called so I could pick her up from wherever she was).
    I also identify 100% with Wendy’s penultimate paragraph.

  26. Whoa, Harry, I see that example in a totally different way. First, I can definitely see my daughter doing the same thing. My feeling is that she needs to learn how to stand up for herself and her needs. I’m not saying that the child should totally be left to advocate for herself; I would have reminded the friend’s parent before the outing that she had a rehearsal to return for. The friend’s parent, if that person agreed to return my daughter on time, should then be held accountable for that agreement, not let out of his or her responsibility with a cell phone call.
    I can’t be totally off-base here, can I?

  27. I think we’ll have a community cell phone. I’ll hand it to the kids when there’s afternoons that I think it will be needed. This way nobody will have their own numbers.
    This is what we have: one cell phone, one cell number, Melissa carries it in her purse, I get to take it to conferences (the long distance is cheaper than a phone card), and very rarely we allow one of the girls to use it if they’ll be at an outside school or church or Girl Scout activity and they don’t know when or exactly where they’ll need to be picked up beforehand. I don’t see this arrangement needing to be changed anytime in the next few years. (Partly because I really don’t imagine our oldest, who is about to turn twelve, suddenly becoming the sort of girl who unwisely gets herself into difficult situations late at night, or who lacks the resources and independence to bail on bad situations as they develop. Our next daughter, now nine, is much more the social butterfly though, and we wonder how our decisions may have to change to accommodate that.)

  28. I don’t like it when we limit technology for things that should be regulated in other ways — a consistent position on a number of different issues (for example, remember when the movie people tried to stop videotapes?). I feel the same way about cell phones. I think we should advocate for ways to be able to use them the way we want to — call blocking is a big feature that phones should have (and, I think all phones should have them).
    Take the example we’re discussing with the child who needed to advocate to get home on time — a cell phone doesn’t have to change that requirement, and a child having a cell phone doesn’t mean that you’re requiring them to be tied at the hip to you, or that they’re taking advantage of it. You can get the call and tell them to figure it out.

  29. I understand that the future is moving towards having everyone connected to the Internet, even in the classroom, even K-12 students. Can I refuse to allow my daughter to have an e-mail account?…[W]hat I really hate about the cell phone is the constant connectedness to parents it provides. Whereas many of you see that constant connectedness as a good thing, I think it encourages dependence rather than self-reliance and learning to deal with inconvenience.
    We have kind of come to the unspoken agreement that for as long as possible, as much as possible, we are going to instruct our kids in the value of just plodding along and dealing with the inconveniences and limits of organized life as they come, rather than looking for ways or tools which hasten their ways around or beyond them. It’s a form of Luddism, I know, but we tend think that too much ordinary common sense–the sort of bourgeois stuff that comes from slowly accumulating life skills and lessons–can potentially be lost if young people are, on the one hand, fast-tracked into worlds of technologically enabled meritocratic accomplishment, while on the other hand, still tethered to parents to deal with real world problems (“Mom, the computer is acting funny!”).
    I suppose this is reflective of my teaching philosophy too. No Wikipedia, actual books and journal articles, go to the physical library, let me see your footnotes, etc. It’s way too idealistic to use as a general principle of teaching or parenting, I know, and as a teacher and as parents I (and we) make plenty of exceptions along the way. Still, it’s kind of our little bit of retro defiance.

  30. I have been thinking a lot about new challenges in parenting (in lots of areas of life, frankly) presented by new technologies. How does one teach a child to be self-reliant, when help is always a phone call away? What about appropriate responses to x-rated texts? Or teaching kids to not overdo on the video games? Just add it to the pile of life skills we’re trying to convey: keeping yourself safe physically, speaking up when you need to, drinking in moderation, not abusing prescription (or other) drugs.
    I struggle with this even outside of the parenting arena. For example clearly at the office I read and comment on blogs. And then I have direct reports who spend lots of time on Facebook … how can I possibly talk to them about responsible use when I’m chattering away on blogs? Sounds eerily familiar to the parenting stuff, doesn’t it? The old “you can’t have a second brownie, but I’m going to after you go to bed” conundrum. There’s also a large measure of disagreement among all of us as to what’s an appropriate level of privacy. If an employee is getting their work done, shouldn’t I butt out of their Facebook habits? And if a child remains safe, should their privacy be maintained? How can you truly measure productivity, or safety? It’s tough stuff.

  31. I think I’m for giving the kid a phone when he’s out. Nearly everyone I know has been trapped somewhere without a land line by dangerous weather. In pre-cell phone days, four of us (16 or so) got caught in an open field in a white-out (we were going sledding). We knew the land well enough to navigate to shelter (a wooded creek bed) by following the fence, but could not let our parents know that. They knew where we were, but there was no way they could have been gotten there until the wind died. On the other hand, even now you might not get a signal as far as we were from any town.

  32. I don’t have kids, and tend to think that many parents are too permissive, admittedly in the “I was a great parent before I had kids” mode. I think kids watch too much tv, have too many things, eat too much junk, talk back too much, etc. This is by way of context. Because if I had a child, I would absolutely make sure he (or she) had a cell phone as soon as his social life took him out of my direct sphere. Here is why (and not to alarm anybody out of proportion):
    When my nephew was 13, he went to spend the night with his best friend; my sister was good friends with the family and had known them well for years. The two boys went to the movies and there ran into two girls from their class. After the movie, one girl asked if they wanted to come to her house and hang out, and the father who was picking up the boys said fine (the father of my nephew’s best friend). He dropped the four kids off and said he’d come back in a couple of hours to pick the boys up. While there, the four kids were forced (and by forced, I mean at gunpoint) by the girl’s father to perform sexual acts with each other. While he filmed.
    Would a cell phone have prevented this? Who can say. I do think that there’s a greater likelihood that my nephew might have made a surreptitious call from the bathroom to say to his mom in private “this girl’s dad came out of the bedroom in his bathrobe and he seems kind of weird,” at which point my sister would have said “I’m coming to pick you up immediately.” It’s tough for a kid to decipher what’s harmless eccentric behavior (or normal for that household) and what might devolve into serious trouble. Hell, it’s tough for adults. When no one else is saying anything, the tendency is to think things are okay and go along too. By the time things were clearly wrong, it was too late. I think that believing a preteen or teenager has the judgment and wherewithal to read and avoid potentially dangerous situations is naive.
    My nephew didn’t tell anyone for a week, til he confided in his older sister, who convinced him to tell their mom. When the police raided the home, they found lots of video and photographic evidence that the man had done this many times before with other kids, using his daughter as bait. Yet my nephew was the first who told. The man is now in jail for forever basically, but damage has been done, by the original incident and by literally years of trial preparation, though in the end the guy pleaded guilty so there was no trial.
    This happened in a small town, where the perception is that everybody knows everybody, and that it’s safe to let your kids do things on their own. And I do think it’s safe, by and large; statistically this incident was an incredible rarity. But I would want my child to have me as a backup if they were ever in a situation where they weren’t sure what to do. And excusing yourself to the bathroom, where you can make a quick call, is much easier for a kid who’s unsure than saying to an adult (whom my sister’s kids were taught to respect, in the “yes sir,” “yes ma’am” way) “I want to use your phone so I can go home now.” As far as my sister knew, her child was safe at the home of his best friend, though if the dad had checked with her whether it was okay, she would’ve said yes.
    Cell phones for kids now have so many controls (which the parents can set from the internet), that can limit the calls received and made to designated numbers, limit the total # of minutes used, limit the specific hours of the day and days of the week that the phone can be used (though some always allow the parents’ # to be dialed), that there’s not much reason other than cost (or I suppose general philosophy) not to give a kid one if he’s going out on his own.

  33. OK, bj, I’m hearing you, and what you say makes sense. I still resist, so why? Maybe it’s because the introduction of the cell phone takes other choices away? Am I expected to have my cell phone with me all the time so my daughter can reach me? What if I don’t? Am I a Bad Mother? I grew up for 40+ years without a cell phone, and I Don’t Want One. (I mean, I have one, but it’s rarely on/charged.)
    (See above about hating to be on the phone. I was in an online conference with a student in Italy today, and he kept asking if he could Skype me. I had to admit I do not Skype. Why would I Skype when I have e-mail? Have I turned into Sandra Bullock’s character in The Net?)

  34. I think our children would still not have a cell phone, but events forced our hand. One child developed a medical condition which was unpredictable. Months could pass between episodes, or hours. A severe attack could affect mobility, but the condition itself is not life-threatening. We decided to get the kid a cell phone, because most of the adults at school go home at the end of the day, except for those monitoring planned after-school activities. We wanted our child to have a method to reach us, in a “help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” situation.
    It’s a pay-as-you-go cellphone, without a camera. The thrill has worn off, especially as friends have much fancier devices. I find it handy to text, because it’s quicker, and less expensive than voice calls. I recommend pay-as-you-go. For one thing, it helps your child to be able to tell friends, “only call me if it’s urgent; my balance is low, and I don’t want to ask for more yet.”
    The downside of cellphones are many. We’ve done pretty well, but there’s a learning curve. The biggest downside? It’s a private conduit to your children’s most disturbed and lonely friends. If a friend is going through a mental crisis, a cell phone is a device to share the agony. Your child is available 24/7. If your child is being bullied, it’s a way for bullies to torment him around the clock, as well. Parents must monitor usage, and make certain to keep the device in a public space overnight.
    A psychiatrist pointed out in a parenting book that cellphones are an ideal way for children to deceive their parents about their location. “Hi Mom, I’m at Celia’s.” Is she really at Celia’s? With a cellphone, you have no way to know.
    I find that adults now assume that children will have cellphones. Adults who would make certain that other adults showed up to pick up children will sometimes wander off, assuming that parents are minutes away.
    Sexting? Depends on the situation. The ten year old’s parents should speak with the boys’ parents. As described, it’s harassment. The school should know, as well, because group harassment of a child can continue at school.
    There might be other reasons to attend Catholic schools. I think Catholic schools also have the habit of admitting humans, so I’d guess they have to deal with the same issues. They do have the option of expelling bad actors, though, which can be a great help for discipline, when wielded appropriately.

  35. Wendy. I did all that. At 12, I don’t think a kid should have to stand up for herself with the parent of a friend, and I don’t want her to be like some of the kids I know who have a sense of deep entitlement when they deal with me. The real solution is not letting her go out with said friend’s parent when anything is at stake, I know.
    Note, I am not enthused about anyone having a cell phone, just find this to be one of the things I can compromise on. I like Laura’s idea too.

  36. “Is she really at Celia’s? With a cellphone, you have no way to know.”
    Actually, that’s not true with a lot of phones. You can track the phone’s movements if you want to.

  37. Harry, I am sure there are many details of the situation that I can’t understand because I’m not living your life. :) I can only try to put myself into the experience and think about what I would expect/do.
    Amy, I was talking about this kind of thing with a student, and he said I should get my kids iPhones. Huh. Not until I have one. (Well, I could get an iPhone, but I have a Touch, and I don’t really want the phone part anyway except to the extent it gives me Internet access.)

  38. I have an iPhone. The user can turn off the locator function. It’s easier to insist that the child call you on the friend’s home line, and check caller I.D. Or, call the friend’s home number. However, you must accept the need to be vigilant.
    If both parents work, as children hit middle school, a phone is a convenience. Sticking to the least desirable phone you can find helps to cut down the kid prestige wars.
    I could make the argument that it’s not a bad idea to work with your child on cell phone usage and etiquette while they’re still living under your roof. Insisting that the child pay for the cell phone bill helps to teach a child the value of money. They must monitor their own cell phone usage and their account balance.

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