Students at a New Hampshire high school have been caught surreptitiously taking photos of female classmates’ bodies – before sharing and grading them.
Bedford High School Principal Bob Jozokos sent an email to parents on Thursday revealing that the shocking behaviour had come to the school’s attention, according to WMUR.
He said that the school had found out that a group of students – mostly boys in the ninth and 10th grades – were taking photos of the breasts and buttocks of junior and senior girls.
The group was then sharing the photos, giving them a grade and making trading cards with those grades.
The principal warned parents that the students’ actions were a form of sexual harassment.
The offending students have received suspensions and been told to go to Saturday school, Mr Jozokos added.
One student weighed in on her classmates’ actions, telling the outlet: “We walk into school, a place where we feel safe, and we’re wearing something and are sexualized and pictures are being taken, moments we don’t know that they are, and it’s scary to not know who among you is doing this.”
“A lot of us were just talking about how disappointed we were and how we hope there are big repercussions for these actions,” another student agreed.
Superintendent Michael Fournier told the outlet that the incident should not be brushed over.
“This is not ‘boys shall be boys.’ This is just being respectful of one another, respectful of women and girls, and that we just need to treat each other as we would want to be treated,” he said.
“This is not just a school issue, it’s a community issue, it’s a home issue. We all need to come together and give the same message to these kids, so they can learn, and the next generation doesn’t make the same mistakes.”
Both the principal and superintendent plan to send a video message to students during their advisory period on Friday to discuss why the behavior was wrong.
A Change.org petition has also been launched to “Expel Boys Responsible For Explicit Trading Card Production”.
The petition was started by a 12th-grade student and has garnered over 1,200 signatures since its creation on Thursday.
“We are not a toy for your son to play with, nor a piece of paper that can be traded like a Pokémon card. After finding out this information, many young women attending Bedford High School were quietly outraged,” the petition reads.
“What was Bedford High Schools [sic] solution to this revolting issue? Suspension. A temporary absence from school was the greatest extent taken by authorities for exploiting teen girls, and distributing inappropriate images of these teen girls without their knowledge. These students deserve to be expelled.”
It continues: “The damage they have done to our community is irreversible and cannot be compensated in any form other than justice for their disgustingly irresponsible actions.
“As a 12th grade female attending Bedford High School, I will refuse to be silent about this issue in honor of the girls that are too afraid of ridicule to speak up, and I encourage all members of the Bedford community and beyond, whether you are a parent, teacher, student, etc, to support our protest in the lack of discipline Bedford has demonstrated.”
One person commented on the post: “I’d like to go to school and not worry about boys taking photos of me.”