Social-media picture sharing and a growing communication gap between parents and their public-school-attending children are being blamed for an explosion of sexual offenses in a Florida school district, the Pensacola News Journal reports.
Santa Rosa County School District Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick said the problem has spiraled in the past three years and that administrators are scrambling to address the issue.
As of this week of the school year, 18 students have faced disciplinary action for a sexual offense in Santa Rosa County and were sent to an alternative placement school, The Learning Academy, for up to one academic year, according to data the News Journal obtained via a public records request.
For the entire 2018-2019 school year, 23 students were disciplined for sexual infractions.
The problem isn’t limited to high schoolers, Wyrosdick said. The offenders have been as young as fifth grade.
The sexual offenses are primarily students caught having intercourse or oral sex or inappropriately touching each other while on school grounds. Many cases involve explicit photos sent or posted on social media.
“We’ve had students who are having sex during school hours, we’ve had them have sex after hours on school campus, we’ve had them in buses after school and before school,” Wyrosdick said. “We’ve had multiple counts of oral sex and inappropriate touching that could become or could lead to sexual behavior. We’ve had students use social media in a very inappropriate way, like by taking pictures of body parts and sending that out to multiple people.
“It’s all over the place,” he added. “But the severity of it, the number of children having sex on campus is huge, and it’s growing.”
Wyrosdick said even though the school population is growing at a significant rate, he didn’t think the increases in sexual offenses are caused solely by population growth. Social media, combined with a lack of communication between parents and their kids, is to blame, he said.