Bullying

Real Stories: My Son Was Suspended for Sexting, But There’s a Catch…

The spate of articles about young boys who have taken their own lives due to being blackmailed by international sextortionists is a confronting thing for anyone to read, but especially for those of us who have kids around similar ages. These situations can happen to anyone. It happened to my family, but on a smaller scale, and for me, it was for sexting at school.

My Year 7 Son was in Hot Water … It Started With A Phone Call

“We’re calling to inform you your son has been suspended.”

I can’t say I wasn’t ever expecting this type of call. My son and school didn’t mesh on the best of days. He’s an overly confident, sarcastic, cheeky kid. That said, for all the things I thought it could be, the reason for the suspension shocked me.

Sexting – One Picture

I was told my son had been suspended because he’d sent an intimate picture to a girl in his class. She sent it to her boyfriend who then sent threatening messages to my son via Facebook Messenger.

I was furious. I’d been talking to him about the grossness of sending unsolicited pics, the dangers of it being out there online, and the legal aspect because he was underage since he was 10.

And I really had a go at him when he got home. I was prepared to confiscate his phone, make him write an apology to the girl, and ground him.

But then he told me what happened, and my rage turned elsewhere.

Group Manipulation

He told me these two girls he knew from school had asked him for the picture.

I told him if that’s the case, I will defend you. But the school will probably ask for proof (which he could easily provide). As it turns out, these popular girls had messaged a group of not-popular young boys who were all playing video games together and pressured all of them into sending pictures.

Only my son and another boy had gone through with it. But my son was the only one from the school reported for making these girls uncomfortable by sending the pic.

High School Showdown

I made an appointment with the principal and printed out the screenshots of the girls pressuring the boys and the threatening messages from one of the girl’s boyfriends. I had looked up all the laws around teen sexting and cyberbullying. I had my facts all lined up and ready to go.

I showed the principal everything, proving my son was set up by these girls. Not only had they pressured a bunch of boys into sending pictures, but they also shared the pictures which led to threats and bullying.

We debated back and forth and while she agreed with me, she upheld the suspension.

I was irate!

I can see why she felt the need to uphold a suspension of this nature. He did send the picture which is against school rules. I agreed so he would have a few days away from the school for the situation to calm down.

Infuriatingly, nothing really happened to the two girls or the threatening boyfriend. The girls were made to apologise after their parents learned they were the instigators, but it only matters if they learnt from it and changed their actions in the future. The boy got off with no consequences at all. I’m still mad about that 10 years later.

I’m not a toxic ‘boy mum’.

It might seem like I’m the type of parent who moves heaven and hell to defend their kids regardless. I assure you I’m not. I will protect them if I know they are in the right. And although if they did the wrong thing, I will still support them as they handle the consequences of their actions.

When my son was in primary school, there was an incident where a principal upturned a bottle of water on him because he wasn’t moving fast enough to get inside. I had to go to the education department to get an apology for that.

When my son got involved with a group of unscrupulous boys and broke into a business, I sat quietly in the background while he was held accountable and faced the consequences. Lucky for me he learned his lesson from this and changed his behaviour.

Homeschooling Decisions

After this sexting incident, the school was on my radar for how they handled matters between students. My son became increasingly unhappy at school and started wagging. I knew there was an underlying reason and when I tell you I was ropable when I found out what it was, believe it.

It turns out one of the young female teachers had started bullying him. She was witnessed by several students verbally berating him and physically poking him, repeatedly poking him hard!  I still haven’t found out why, but it was not long after the photo incident (and this teacher liked the two girls who instigated it), so, it’s not a hard stretch of the imagination to figure it out.

That was when I decided to pull him out of school and homeschool him. The school argued with me and tried to feed me all types of misinformation to get me to change my mind. But I went in armed with the law and had the facts to back me up. I reminded them they have had great teachers in the past. They taught me.

But they had let my son down multiple times, and he didn’t feel safe there anymore. The decision was easy.

I had to change the way I approached internet safety with my teens. Now, I only have one teen left and she’s careful about what she posts and shares. I worked hard to create an environment of safety and support for my kids to come to me if they were in trouble.

I listen to them without judgment and only offer advice if they ask for it. Sometimes they need to vent and I’ve always made it clear they’re welcome to vent to me.

But anyone can be a victim of sextortion, exploitation, or worse. This was an eye-opening experience for both me and my son. It even made me change the way I interact with people online.

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