Very obvious, very big CN for this post, but no graphic descriptions
A long, long time ago, I decided to study two foreign languages in order to become a teacher and teach those languages to children. And I learned how to structure a lesson and got graded on how well I worded my questions and I almost got failed and nothing in that whole time prepared me for the reality of school. No lesson ever mentioned “and then there might be the day you accidentally discover that there might be a video of a former student being sexually abused that is making the rounds amongst year 7”. And of course nobody told me what to do. Or how to deal with it myself, especially when the supposed victim and the kids passing it around are the same age as your daughter.
What happened? Well, a girl in grade 7 complained that the boys were spreading a rumour about there being a sex video of her, so we talked to the boys, who then said “oh no, we don’t know anything about a sex video of her, we only know the video of K”, which was the point when the week collapsed to a single point. K is a former pupil. She was originally from Hungary, lived with her mum in Germany in very difficult circumstances, and then went back to Hungary with her dad in a rushed move which left all of us powerless and with a very bad feeling, but she kept in contact with a few of the girls. And apparently she’d kept sending one of them increasingly sexualised content. From dick pics grown men had sent her via social media, to a video that she claimed showed her having sex with an adult man. Which then got passed around…
At this point I needed to update my ideas about “child pornography”. Because when you hear the term, what you think of are men raping young children and then passing those videos around. What you don’t think of is teenagers filming their own sexual activities and then passing the video around to other teenagers, all still under the earliest age of consent. And you just. don’t. know. what. to. do.
We do have a “crisis team” and I’m a member of it, so this was our first “test” as a team and damn, it was a hard one. One thing was that we were very unsure about what we had to do, and what we mustn’t do. Basically we were left with the feeling that we were with one foot in jail in all directions. That we were liable for doing things, but also for not doing things. The rules about mandatory reporting in Germany are difficult and essentially for teachers they are “it depends”, which leaves you exactly as clueless as before, especially since the stupid guidelines from 2020(!) don’t cover anything about internet and social media.
What kind of “saved our necks” was the fact that the kids passing around the video are under 14 as well. That makes them children who are victims of sexual abuse as well (because showing pornographic material to children is sexual abuse), and talking to the kids, you could see how some of them were harmed by something they didn’t want to see, they didn’t consent to, they knew was wrong. The police watched the video, saved it on their devices and removed it from the phones, thus covering the legal aspects.
We are still left with the social aspects. How to deal with the kids who watched it, who sent it. How to prevent such things in the future. How to deal with the parents and how to get help. The police say the face of the girl/woman in the video wasn’t clearly visible, thus they can neither verify nor rule out that is was our former student. They also say it wasn’t a girl under 14, they have experts who can tell that. Yes, I’m just as confused about these statements in combination as you are. We still informed social services who can possibly get a track on her in Hungary, because whatever the matter with the video, that kid is in danger of sexual abuse/being sexually abused. I think it entirely possible that this was her way of calling for help. We also informed the school psychologist and will contact organisations that can help us doing workshops etc. to prevent such things from happening in the future.
What left me pretty shocked and clueless was the reaction of the parents. We had to call 4 parents to inform them about what had happened, about the fact that the police was involved and what was happening / going to happen. Out of those 4, exactly one reacted the way you would expect, with shock and worry about their own child. One was: “OK, never mind, actually I wanted to talk with you about whether my kid can go to the advanced courses” (no, the kid can’t, the kid is getting regular Fs for refusing to work). The other one was: “I really don’t agree with her not having her mobile. She needs to have her mobile, when is she getting her mobile back???” (this is why we sealed the mobiles in envelopes and handed them to the police without touching them. Sadly the police returned the mobile the same day). The third one laughed about the whole story. Were there any legal consequences? No? Oh, and which kids had sent the video to their kid? (No, we don’t give out names of other kids and this is why). It also shows one of the big problems we’re having: school is supposed to deal with issues we have no control over. Apparently it was our fault that we didn’t know what was going on, but of course we’re also not supposed to touch the children’s mobiles (and no, I don’t want to touch them anyway) because that’s private? I mean, how about the parents taking some responsibility for their children’s social media activities?
I just hope you had a better week, I could do with a refund on this one…