Last month I noted a situation in a middle school in Minnesota where numerous students had been suspended, and I wondered why it required police involvement. Today, Meena Hart Duerson provides additional details in the Daily News:
Earlier this year, students at Century Middle School in Lakeville began taking photos of girls’ behinds in the hallways at school with their cell phones and sending them around to each other, Dakota County attorney James Backstrom told local media outlets.
The stunt escalated when two boys at the school, ages 13 and 14, each paid a 14-year-old girl and gave her a can of soda to be a mole in the locker room, convincing her to take photos and a video of two girls changing inside, Backstrom said, according to the Pioneer Press.
“It started out as a game, but it quickly crossed the line into some significant invasions of privacy,” Backstrom told the Star Tribune, adding it was “very harmful to the young women who were inappropriately photographed — and it also was against the law.”
Another 14-year-old girl also took a picture of the girls undressing.
The images, photographed from the back of the two girls, did not show them naked, but did reveal them to be partially undressed from the waist down, Backstrom said.
As many as 40 students have reportedly seen the photos and video, and 16 were suspended over the incident.
The boys and the girl who recorded the video were charged on Tuesday with gross misdemeanors including criminal defamation, Minnesota Public Radio reported, for putting the two victims at risk of humiliation by having their photos distributed. The second girl was charged with interference with privacy.
Backstrom said the students could have been charged with felonies, but he didn’t think that was the best or most effective approach.
Read more on Daily News.
While I respect the school’s desire to deal with the situation and that they are not seeking severe punishment or a permanent criminal record, I still have some doubts and concerns about referring this matter to the police rather than handling it in-house. While the intended message may be that some privacy invasions break the law and are very serious, is the unintended message that school discipline is insufficient to teach kids that lesson?
What do you think?