June 26, 2019 — While school was still in session, Siuslaw Outreach Services (SOS) presented valuable life lessons to students at Siuslaw middle and high schools.
SOS Executive Director Bob Teter addressed students in Sean O’Mara’s senior economics class on tenant rights and responsibilities. Teter also talked with the high school seniors about budgeting, needs versus wants and planning for the unexpected. He then went through the difference between month-to-month contracts and lease agreements. Teter also discussed with students how to communicate with roommates, property owners and utility companies to resolve issues that may arise due to changes in income that could result from some type of unforeseen life event.
In a separate presentation, Teter spoke to seventh- and eighth-graders at Siuslaw Middle School about the pitfalls associated with social media and, more specifically, the dangers and legal ramifications of sexting.
Students are using social media sites more than ever before. Sexting is also becoming more and more prevalent in our society.
Teachthought.com reported that in a nationwide poll, 48 percent of adults and 25 percent of teens have sent sexually explicit text or photos to a partner.
Sexting is defined as the sending or receiving a sexually explicit text or image via a mobile device. A misconception about sexting is that images do not have to be of nude individuals. Sexting can include implied nudity or implied sexual acts. In the State of Oregon, any student engaged in sexting falls under child pornography laws. The punishment of such acts can be severe and financially devastating.
Teter shared with students the fines that can be leveled upon parents and that students could end up in the juvenile justice system and have to register as a sex offender. Fines can be as high as $250,000 and include up to 10 years in prison.
During the presentation, Teter polled the youth, which revealed some sobering numbers. Ninety percent of those students had some type of media account before the sixth grade. Nearly half those students signed up for their account(s) without their parents’ permission. Seventy percent of those students were provided with a mobile device capable of connecting to the internet as early as age nine. Over 70 percent of those students received their device without rules, instruction or guidance of any kind — and nearly 100 percent of students reported viewing some sort of image that was sexual in nature on a weekly basis.
In addition, every student at the assembly reported being bullied via some kind of electronic device or through some sort of social media account.
Nationwide studies have shown that a large number of children have engaged in sexting as early as 9 years of age.
Teter told the students that he recognizes the pressures they face and how they are continually bombarded by unhealthy sexual images through movies, music, clothing ads and other media forms.
“It amazes me that many parents have provided their child with this powerful device, that can both do a lot of good but also has the ability to ruin someone’s life forever, with no guidance how to use it responsibly,” Teter said. “A Harvard study has shown that as the number of social media outlets increase, so has the rate of teen suicide. It’s not that these sites themselves are bad, it is that students are not guided how to communicate in a healthy and productive way, as well as how to handle conflict or misunderstandings. When as parents are we going to wake up?”
Teter concluded the presentation with students by giving them inscribed “dog tags” provided by Community 101, that read, “Give respect …Get Respect.” He challenged the students to put that into action, saying, “By putting the needs of others first we can solve many of life’s social issues.”
For more information on Siuslaw Outreach Services, visit florencesos.org.