But such cases are hardly rare. School administrators in Oklahoma and across the country are struggling to educate their students and parents about the tremendous downside that can accompany irresponsible smartphone use.
Not long ago, the headaches weren't much more serious than kids texting their classmates answers to quizzes. Now smartphones can transmit crystal clear images in the blink of an eye, not just to one or two people via text message, but to millions with one upload to Twitter or any other number of social networking sites.
The practice of sexting — sending nude or partially nude photos — is approaching an epidemic. A study published this summer in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that 28 percent of high schoolers surveyed in seven schools in southeast Texas had sent someone a naked picture of themselves. Thirty-one percent had asked someone to do so, and 57 percent had been asked to send a sext.
Researchers at the University of Michigan studied nearly 3,500 men and women aged 18 to 24 and found that 30 percent had sent a sext message to their partner and 41 percent had received one. Sexting “is rapidly becoming part of the dating process,” the researchers said.
Such activity between adults is one thing. But when the photos involve underage boys and girls, that's something altogether different, regardless of the intentions of the young person sending or receiving the images. Kids, and their parents, need to wake up about this serious and growing problem.