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System sounds sexting warning
Incident involved middle schoolers
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Forsyth County News
Officials say the 10-day suspension of a seventh-grader this week is a reminder that the Forsyth County school system will not tolerate “sexting.”

“Sexting,” or the sending of sexually explicit text messages, has grown nationwide with the increased presence of cell phones in schools.

The Liberty Middle School student was suspended after she reportedly sent nude photographs of herself to male students at Liberty, Otwell and Vickery Creek middle schools.

“The photos were not taken at school or on the campus,” said Jennifer Caracciolo, system spokeswoman. “The way we found out about this is the female student told a friend, who went to the counselors. Upon searching the student’s phone, the photos were found.”

While the photos were also found on the cell phones of the male students, they were not suspended because they did not forward the messages.

As technology continues to advance, the school district works to stay current, Caracciolo said.

This school year, the system started offering a variety of resources to parents and talked with middle and high school students about the consequences of sexting.

Debbie Rondem, director of the district’s student support services department, said officials are “really trying to educate parents about that and educate students.”

“We became aware that this was a trend in society and in the nation, so we decided we needed to do something about it to be proactive,” Rondem said.

The system provides the Parent Toolbox, a resource for parents to learn more about issues facing students, including bullying, Internet safety, depression and substance abuse.

Caracciolo said a Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputy talked earlier this school year with Liberty Middle students about sexting, using different materials based on grade level.

“We talked about the consequences of sexting and how serious it was,” she said. “We also had a parent night and one of the topics was sexting.”

While the photos weren’t taken on campus, Caracciolo said they were viewed on campus. As a majority of students now have hand-held devices, the content sent back and forth can still be viewed inside the system’s schools.

“It would be similar to someone bringing in a pornographic magazine to our schools,” she said.

Once her suspension is complete, the seventh-grader will face a disciplinary tribunal. She could face additional punishments up to expulsion or placement at Gateway Academy, the system’s alternative school.