Local News

Sex in schools - it's happening

Posted February 24, 2011 6:08 p.m. EST
Updated February 24, 2011 6:54 p.m. EST

Reading, writing and arithmetic aren't the only things going on at school. Students say sex in school is more common than some might think.

Since July 2008, Wake County Public School System administrators have dealt with 78 reports of students having sex on school grounds. This school year, 17 cases have been reported.

In a rare occurrence, one male student at Sanderson High School in Raleigh was charged with a felony for engaging in a consensual sex act with a female student in a school stairwell.

Lisa Siegerman, a high school anatomy teacher and parent of three girls, says she was shocked to hear that sex is taking place on school grounds.

“You usually assume it is at home, in a car,” Siegerman said. “With school, I always associate learning.”

Kami Kosenko, an assistant communications professor at North Carolina State University, says teens have more access to sexual images today through technology, and that's resulted in a more casual attitude toward sex.

“Students are being bombarded with all these sexual images,” Kosenko said. “Frequently, media images don't depict any sort of consequences of sexual acts.”

Principals say it is particularly difficult to monitor out-of-the-way spaces at schools but that, when they see suspicious behavior, they respond to it immediately.

“I try to deal with it with fear,” said Millbrook High School Principal Dana King.

King says her staff monitors out-of-the-way spots, like stairwells and rarely used hallways, with cameras and on foot.

“My first assumption is (students are) there for a reason that is not permissible,” King said. “I tell them why I think they are there, because there's no reason they need privacy at school.”

Experts and educators say other teens need to be part of the solution by being willing to stand up and say they don’t think sex at school is appropriate.

Millbrook High senior Taylor Carter says students need to be willing to say they won't tolerate it on their campus.

“We're really kind of figuring out who we are, what we can do, what we can't do, but there has to be boundaries,” she said. “No one wants to see that, no one wants to walk in on that, not here.”

King has called students and their parents into her office on three occasions this year to talk about the students being caught in unauthorized areas.

“Prevention is what we're about in schools,” she said. “Dealing with things after the fact, in any kind of a discipline situation, wastes time and distracts us from our mission of educating students.”

Wake County covers sexual activity under its "inappropriate student behavior" policy.

Discipline can range from suspension to expulsion. School administrators say they also consult with their school resource officers to see if a criminal investigation is warranted.