Editors Note: David M. Hall, Ph.D., is he author of the book “Allies at Work: Creating a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Inclusive Work Environment.” He is also the author of “BullyShield,” an iPhone and Droid app. Hall teaches high school students as well as graduate courses on LGBT issues and bullying prevention. His website is www.davidmhall.com and he is on twitter @drdavidmhall.
By David M. Hall, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Dharun Ravi made videos of his college roommate, Tyler Clementi, sexually involved with another man. Tyler was unaware that he was being recorded and broadcast. Confronted with this violation of his privacy, Tyler committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington bridge.
In 2008, Jessica Logan, a high school senior in Ohio, sent naked pictures of herself to her boyfriend. When they broke up, he forwarded those photos to others. Logan was called a slut and a whore, according to numerous news reports. She eventually committed suicide – just weeks after graduation- by hanging herself in her bedroom closet.
Clementi’s privacy was clearly violated. There is debate about whether Logan waived her privacy. However, both were victims of people inflicting harm by attempting to hold them up for ridicule. Each of their stories has the same tragic ending. Clementi and Logan found that their expectation of privacy was violated.
According to teens, sending and posting sexually explicit images is occurring more than many adults realize. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that 20% of teens (18% of boys and 22% of girls) have sent such nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves.
I teach criminal justice to high school seniors, and we debate the seriousness of crimes. On most issues – such as the death penalty, armed robbery, drinking and driving – their views are similar to adults. When talking about sexting, however, their views are decidedly different.
Their first area of disagreement is frequency. High school students insist that the 20% figure of sending or posting sexually explicit images is not even close to correct. They argue that those numbers are closer to 50%.
Many state that sending sexually explicit pictures of yourself waives your right to privacy, and a significant number argue there is nothing wrong with forwarding such images. However, this view is disproportionately held by males. Additionally, many students explain that the issue is largely heterosexual males forwarding sexually explicit images of females. This problem is not an equal opportunity offender.