May 18, 2012

Sexting Scandal Victim Speaks Out

5-18-2012 New Jersey:

New Jersey resident Allyson Pereira visits North Branford High School to share her nightmare in hopes other teens don't make the same mistakes.

“Has your whole town seen you naked? Mine has.” That was the shocking statement that got the attention of the 9th- and 10th-grade students at an assembly at North Branford High School last week.

Ally Pereira, a 22-year-old New Jersey resident, took center stage as a result of a column I wrote for North Branford Patch about bullying, it had been shared on a Facebook page called the Anti Bullying Coalition and Ally e-mailed me to tell me her story, which I shared in a subsequent column.

I brought her story to Principal Todd Stoeffler, who in turn shared it with the school’s Cyber Ally team. They all agreed that this was something students needed to hear.

At first glance she could have passed for a student, but within seconds of her opening statement, the auditorium was silenced as Ally explained how one impulsive decision turned into a nightmare. She had been a naïve 16-year-old whose long-term boyfriend had broken up with her. When he told her they could get back together if she texted a nude photo of herself, Ally believed him. She sent him a photo but did not get a reply.

He sent the photo with everyone on his contact list, and many of those recipients forwarded it, too. Within 24 hours it seemed like everyone had seen it. It was not long before the bullying started. Boys made fun of her saying she would never get another boyfriend now that everyone had seen her naked, girls bullied her because their boyfriends had seen it. She received death threats, her family were harassed, their house vandalized.

After she finished telling her story, Ally shared a video of an MTV documentary called A Thin Line; When Privates Go Public. The video combines interviews with Ally, her friends and family and facts and figures about “sexting.” They explain how there can be legal implications for anyone caught sending or even forwarding a text containing images of nudity of a minor.

One student asked Ally if her boyfriend was arrested and she said “No, because if I had him charged, he could have had me arrested, too, for sending it and I could have been charged with manufacturing child pornography.” Someone asked if she had ever spoken to him again and Ally answered “No, but about a year later, he sent me a text asking for another photo.” There was a gasp of shock from the audience. ..For the remainder of this story: by Doreen Currie

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