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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Landon Warns Parents of Nude Photos

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Elliott Landon: Photos depict students in “inappropriate acts.”Dave Matlow/WN file photo
Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon has warned parents that middle school and high school students have been circulating nude pictures of themselves electronically and such criminal activity can have grave consequences.

In a letter and e-mail to parents Wednesday, Landon said school officials believe the images have been circulated well beyond Westport and identities of certain students have been revealed to strangers.

“We know not who these strangers are nor where they lurk nor which of them are computer sex offenders,” he said.

“As you can imagine, such extensive transmissions to strangers who have access to the identities of our students can place our children at great risk.”

Police earlier this week said they were investigating the circulation of nude pictures involving students at Coleytown Middle School. Landon’s e-mail indicated those involved were students at other schools as well.

“Within the last few days I have learned of unfortunate incidents involving students both at the middle and high school levels that are quite disturbing,” Landon said.

“To be specific, a number of students, in the privacy of their own homes, using electronic equipment, have transmitted to others live images and photographs of themselves in total nudity and engaging in inappropriate acts while in the nude. 

“This behavior is totally unacceptable in terms of our community’s mores.  More importantly, this type of behavior has the potential to be dangerous to the students who are engaging in the transmission of these images of themselves.”

The complete text of Landon’s e-mail:

“Dear Parents/Guardians:

“Within the last few days I have learned of unfortunate incidents involving students both at the middle and high school levels that are quite disturbing. 

“To be specific, a number of students, in the privacy of their own homes, using electronic equipment, have transmitted to others live images and photographs of themselves in total nudity and engaging in inappropriate acts while in the nude. 

“This behavior is totally unacceptable in terms of our community’s mores.  More importantly, this type of behavior has the potential to be dangerous to the students who are engaging in the transmission of these images of themselves.

“The images that have been transmitted have then been transmitted and re-transmitted to countless others. We believe that these transmissions and re-transmissions have been so extensive as to have spread well beyond the borders of the Westport community. 

“While we cannot be certain, we are of the belief that the identities of certain of the students who have transmitted images of themselves in these compromised situations have been revealed to others, including strangers who are neither residents nor members of our community. 

“We know not who these strangers are nor where they lurk nor which of them are computer sex offenders. As you can imagine, such extensive transmissions to strangers who have access to the identities of our students can place our children at great risk.

“It is important for parents to understand that children can be victimized through the transfer of sexually explicit information and material.  Parents also should remember that a computer-sex offender can be of any age or sex to be able to harm a child.

“Within the schools, through our health education and other programs, we work diligently to urge our students not to engage in risky behaviors.  However, school programs, by themselves, cannot single-handedly protect the children of our community. 

“To be successful in our efforts, we need to have the parents and guardians of the children who attend our schools work along with us to protect our young.

“I beseech you to work with us to protect your children in this electronic age by doing the following:

“1. Talk to your child about potential on-line danger.

“2. Keep your computers in common spaces in your home, not in your child’s bedroom. It is much more difficult for inappropriate communications to take place when the computer screen is visible to a parent or another member of the household.

“3. Always maintain access to your child’s on-line computer and cell phone accounts and randomly check his/her e-mail, text messages and cell phone photos. Be up front with your child about the reasons necessitating your access.

“4. Let your child know that if he/she was a willing participant in the transmission of sexual materials involving himself/herself or other children, your child bears complete responsibility for his or her actions.

“5. Instruct your children to:
.     
“NEVER upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the internet or any other on-line services.

“NEVER give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number.

“NEVER download sexually explicit pictures from any source.

“NEVER respond to messages, photos or bulletin board postings that are suggestive or obscene.

“The electronic transmission or the electronic receipt/transmission of sexually explicit, lewd or pornographic materials in which students are engaged, when discovered, will be addressed through the criminal justice system. 

“Once in the criminal justice system, the potential for an adverse long-term impact upon your children from the perspective of college admissions and prospective adult careers is profound.

“I urge you to discuss the contents of this letter with your children.  I beseech you to be vigilant and proactive in dealing with your children’s use of the Internet, cell phones, and other means of electronic transmission.

“Let us continue to take advantage of the strong partnership between our parents and our schools so as to protect and enhance the safety and security of our children.

Sincerely,

Elliott Landon
Superintendent of Schools

Posted 05/15/08 at 05:14 PM

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