New Illinois law requires schools to teach kids about dangers of sexting and 'sextortion'

A new Illinois law requires public school sex education classes to teach students about the dangers of sexting.

Jason Frieri, a health teacher at Lockport Township High School, said that he's already been talking with students about the dangers of sexting.

"We’re naïve to think that kids aren’t able to make bad choices or make bad decisions," Frieri said. "We just want to try and mitigate that."

Former Naperville police officer Richard Wistocki, who now works as a cyber safety expert, said it's important for schools to admit that kids might be facing this issue today.

"We need to talk about this. We need to arm our kids with the tools and the red flags predators use to try to get their naked pictures so it doesn’t affect their future," Wistocki said.


The law doesn't provide any funding for schools to add this to their classes, though. And while schools like Lockport High might only have a few changes to make to their curriculum, other schools will have more work to do.

Wistocki said that school resource officers will be spending more time on sexting issues this year, because the pandemic has left kids with a lot of time on their hands. Both Wistocki and the Illinois School Resource Officer Association agree that school resource officers should be part of the process when it comes to teaching students about the consequences of sexting.

"Lets face it, the internet and cyber is not going away. I do think its important for SROs and all police officers, especially patrolmen, to learn more about cyber crime," said Kip Heinle, Illinois School Resource Officers Association public relations director.

Research from the cyber safety group "We Are Thorn" shows students as young as 9 report that someone has asked them for a naked photo, and approximately 60 percent of sexting victims know the offender.

So, chances are a school resource officer will know who that person is too.

Heinle and Wistocki also said that social workers should be involved and teaching students about the dangers of sexting should be a team effort.

"Everyone is here to help. That would be the biggest message: that no matter what our role is, we’re here to help," Frieri said.