SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 5, 2013

Beverly teens in hot water over video

Students suspended for watching 'suggestive' video

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — About a half-dozen Beverly High School students were suspended and 11 Briscoe Middle School students are facing consequences for viewing a “suggestive” video made by a female student, Interim Superintendent Albert Argenziano said.

The high school students have already served one-day or three-day suspensions, Argenziano said. Briscoe administrators are scheduled to meet with parents on Monday to determine punishment for those students.

Beverly police have been involved in the investigation but no criminal charges will be filed, said Officer Michael Boccuzzi, the department spokesman. Boccuzzi described the suspensions as “educational.”

Argenziano said there are laws against disseminating explicit material, but school officials are trying to give students consequences without giving them a criminal record. Most of the students are eighth- or ninth-graders, he said.

“These kids have made mistakes, and we’re trying to provide consequences for their actions but at the same time trying not to ruin their lives,” he said.

The students are being punished for viewing and/or passing along a video made last year by a Briscoe Middle School student, Argenziano said.

The girl sent the video to her boyfriend last year when both were eighth-graders at Briscoe. They are now freshmen at Beverly High School. The girl was the only person in the video, which Argenziano described as “suggestive.”

When the girl and boy broke up this year, the boy forwarded the video to some friends, who in turn forwarded it to other students, Argenziano said.

Argenziano said a student came forward to tell school officials about the video. Police investigated and determined which students had viewed it.

High school students who watched the video and then deleted it were suspended for one day. High school students who viewed the video and passed it along were suspended for three days.

The boy and girl were also suspended and given counseling, Argenziano said.

Parents of the middle school students were notified yesterday that their children would be suspended, but Argenziano said he suggested that Briscoe officials meet with parents and consider other consequences because those students are younger.

Briscoe Middle School Principal Matthew Poska said school officials will meet with parents on Monday.

“There are no suspensions right now,” Poska said. “We’re going to work with the parents and the students, as we always do.”

Argenziano said school officials are trying to use the incident as a chance to educate students on how to deal with inappropriate online video and other material.

Incidents of “juvenile sexting” are increasing, according to the FBI. A recent study found that 20 percent of teenagers sent naked or semi-nude images of themselves or posted them online, according to the FBI.

Police in Wrentham are planning to conduct seminars at King Phillip Regional High School after learning that as many as a dozen girls “sexted” photos of themselves to boys.

The FBI described juvenile sexting as youths sending or posting sexually suggestive text messages and images via cellular telephones or over the Internet.

Argenziano said anyone who receives a sexually suggestive image or video should report it to authorities immediately.

“Maybe we can make this an educational learning experience,” he said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.