News / 

Text messaging a growing concern in Utah's schools

Save Story

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Bountiful Junior High School teachers who were arrested last week for having sex with one of their students say it all started with text messages -- text messages that may have started innocently before turning sexual.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a teen, or an adult for that matter, who doesn't text. Texting is so convenient, efficient and easy, but it can also get you in trouble.

"I've definitely regretted sending things," said high school student Clarissa Mabey.

Breck Duncan, also a high school student, told us, "[You can be] texting about someone else, and you accidentally send it to the person you're talking about. That happens frequently."

Things they'd never dare say in person end up getting said via text message. "We will be mad at each other for weeks over something we've said over text," Mabey said.

They say texting gives them power. "When you're not face-to-face, you get a confidence boost because you're not dealing with them. You're dealing with them in a little screen," Duncan said.

**Usage Control** Allows you to control and monitor your child's cell phone with: - Online control - Time limits - Block numbers - Trusted numbers - Alerts


It's that power Sariah Donnahoo with the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force warns students about when she travels to schools across the state.

"Just because it's easier to say it in a text message, doesn't mean it's something they should ever say to somebody," Donnahoo said.

Last week, she gave a similar presentation to eight-graders at Bountiful Junior High. Days later, 46-year-old Linda Nef turned herself in for having sex with a then 13-year-old student and 39-year-old Valynne Bowers was arrested for the same thing.

"Some of these relationships become easier. These are new opportunities that the teacher never would have said something like that to a student. She would have never crossed that line in class," Donnahoo said.

The question now for educators is whether teachers should be allowed to text students. "It's just getting more and more curious that many of these most painful and notorious cases start with the students text messaging the teacher," said Carol Lear, with the Utah State Office of Education.

School districts will likely be left to decide, but as with any new technology, there are pros and cons.

"If you're in a program like sports or extracurricular activities, I think it's appropriate if the teacher can get a hold of you that way. It's convenient, just like a phone call," said high school student Sharesa Larson.

Student Mallory Denison said, "It would just kind of, I don't know, it would weird me out if I got a text from my teacher."

Unless you go through the text messages on your child's phone, or they tell you, there's no way to find out if your child is sending or receiving inappropriate texts. However, you can control who your child text messages and the times they're able to do it.


Related stories

Most recent News stories

Courtney Orton


    Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast