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NZ school kids send ‘sex images’ using smartphones

Wellington, Apr 12 (ANI): Misuse of cellphone by school children has forced a major policy review of mobiles and Internet by a school in New Zealand.

The Golden Bay High School suspended pupils for sending sexual images of a classmate.

With “sexting” incidents by predators are making international and national headlines, the school says it is doing all it can to cope with the problem.

School deputy principal Stuart Machin admitted the incident had exposed the inadequacy of their internet safety policies.

“The technology moves faster than our bureaucracy,” Stuff.co.nz quoted Machin as saying.

“We review the policies every three years but since then students have started using smartphones and it’s become a lot harder for us to monitor when they are not using school computers or networks,” Machin said.

Machin confirmed that the events took place out of school hours and off school property but admitted the distribution of the images had profound social consequences for the pupil involved.

The 14-year-old girl approached school authorities after three pupils had obtained a sexualised image of her and sent it to other pupils.

The ensuing investigation involved Takaka police, who on Wednesday said that they had no comment, but stressed the need to protect the girl’s identity to avoid “victimising the victim”.

“Recent incidents involving some of our students have highlighted concerns around the misuse of cellphones, Facebook and the like,” Roger File, school Principal said.

“A key question for parents to ask themselves is ‘What do I know about Facebook and my child’s use of it?’” File said.

Cyber security expert John Parsons said sending on sexual images of a minor was against the law and needed to be taken seriously.

“Sending a sexual image of 14-year-old girl is considered trafficking in child pornography,” he said.

“In the United States some students have ended up on the child sex offenders list for similar misconduct.

“It’s extremely serious and both parents and students need to have more awareness of the consequences,” he said.

With the offending pupils back in class, Stuart said the school was seeking funding for cyber-security workshops.

It was also planning to review its Internet policies to address challenges posed by cellphones.

“We’re constantly struggling with the role of the school in private lives. The more time we devote to what students do outside school, the less resources we have to devote to education,” Machin said.

“We have to have the parents’ involvement to make sure children are using technology appropriately” Machin added. (ANI)