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Evanston Township High School reportedly has cancelled the remainder of the varsity baseball team’s season after a ‘sexting’ scandal developed at the school.

School officials say some girls sent nude or semi-nude photos of themselves to team members who in turn circulated the photos to others.

WLS Television reports that the school in response will forfeit the remainder of the team’s season — which was to have started with a playoff game against Taft High School tonight.

A letter to players and their parents, Atheletic Director Chris Livatino called the players’ behavior “completely unacceptable” and that as a result the team shouldn’t represent the high school in the playoffs.

School Superintendent Eric Witherspoon also posted a letter to all parents on the school’s website. The text of that letter follows.


Dear ETHS families,

Earlier this week, the high school received a report about a possible “sexting” situation involving ETHS students. Sexting can best be described as sending, sharing, viewing, receiving or possessing indecent visual depictions of oneself or another person over the internet or via cell phones.

The report alleged that ETHS girls had sent inappropriate photos of themselves to ETHS boys who were members of the varsity baseball team, and some of the boys, in turn, were circulating the inappropriate photos. Upon receiving this report, school administration initiated an investigation into the facts of the situation to determine what occurred. Appropriate actions have been taken. The Evanston Police Department as well as DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) have been consulted, and at this time they have declined to take any action.

The incident above is not an isolated one. We know that as more and more young people become connected in the digital age, sexting will remain a top concern for parents and educators. Please take the time to educate yourself and your child about the consequences of sexting. Talk about the pressures to send revealing photos and discuss the importance of self-respect and respect for others. Encourage your child to tell an adult if s/he receives an inappropriate photo via email, social media, text, or other group chat applications, and advise them not to forward the photo to other friends. If they do send it on, they may be violating the law.

As you talk with your teen about sexting, remind her/him that once something is in the digital world, it never really goes away. Photos can remain online indefinitely. College admissions officers and employers often review the internet to be sure that nothing in a person’s past may overshadow a potential acceptance or hire. Making good decisions with technology now will help support your child’s plans for the future.

At Evanston Township High School, our goal is to support all our students and their families. You are a vital partner in our mission, and we appreciate everything you do to support your child at home and at school. Below are some links to resources that can help all of us become more knowledgeable about this issue. I hope you find them useful.

Sincerely,

Eric Witherspoon
Superintendent

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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25 Comments

  1. Good call cancelling the rest

    good call cancelling the rest of the season. Those boys are not mature enough to play.

    1. … and how were the girls

      … and how were the girls who took and sent the photos punished???

      1. Happy to see boys were punished

        I for one am happy to see that the boys were actually punished in this case. The girl(s) who originally sent the photos must already be experiencing bullying, slut shaming, and isolation because of this incident. In previous cases in the media some young women have comitted suicide… while in most cases, boys get off scot free and only earn accolades from their "bros." I am happy that ETHS is taking an even handed approach to this.  Many young girls have been pressured by older boys to do these sorts of things – we have no idea if that happened, and should not rush to judgement. Furthermore, I think it is absolutely disgusting that these boys thought it would be okay to circulate photos like this. Talk about disrespectful and hateful attitudes towards women and girls. 

        1. I can’t stand feminists who

          I can't stand feminists who advocates gender inequality. In this case that boys should be punished more than the girls because you are making assumptions that the girls have bad consequences.

        2. As my son, who was not

          As my son, who was not involved said: More guys have seen this girls boobs, than have not… I certainly hope the administration is going to spend as much time getting this girl some appropriate counseling as they did railroading a few goofy boys… The school may have done an excellent job investigating this incident but accouding to the article, the police and DCFS did not believe the incidentn warrented further action… move on!

  2. Additional charges?

    They all should also be charged for manufacturing/distributing/possession of child pornography……just sayin'

    1. Too quick to convict?

      There were no charges in the first place…according to the school letter, the police and DCFS were notified and will take no action,,, Once again, ETHS administration quick to convict without due process… I can assure you, the young men on the baseball team are not the only ones to see and send said photos…

       

      1. Code of conduct

        There is a code of conduct that all parents and student athletes have to sign in order for them to be a part of any sports or team activity at the high school so the school was not out of line.  

  3. Great decision and informative letter

    Compliments to ETHS & Eric Witherspoon for that great decision, and informative letter!

  4. Bad call

    What a short-sighted call by the ETHS athletic dean.

    What kind of message does this send to the ballplayers who were not involved in this malfeasance?  That you can work hard and make it to the playoffs, only to have your dreams bogarted by a sexting buffoon?

    They should let the innocent players play the game.  If not enough players, then get some from the lacrosse team or somewhere.  It's not fair to punish everyone for the actions of a few.  

    1. Bad call?

      I disagree, the military works the same way.  A team is a collective whole, one suffers, all suffer.  Next year players on the team will be more mindful not to let anyone down.  Sorry, it's tough love. 

  5. Sexting at ETHS

    Cancelling the remainder of the ETHS Baseball season was a serious decision. Be assured that any decision of this magnitude would not be made without a thorough investigation and proof. Evanston is fortunate to have a responsible administration.

    Any student found to be involved in a violation as serious as this one would not be exempted from consequences. What must also be considered in reviewing this decision is that the students in this incident were representing ETHS.

    As for the misconception that the girls involved wouldn't suffer any consequences, ask yourself if the punishment of the school could possibly compare with dealing with their peers or the lifelong ramifications of web.

    1. Don’t delude yourself

      … that this was a careful decision.  Livitino did not even know ETHS had not even talked to some of the boys before he decided to punish them all.  The few boys who participated committed a serious offense, but collective punishment of the whole team, including some players who could not possibly have participated because they didn't even have smart phones, is a lesson in unfairness taught by the very people these boys look to for guidance.  That's a "great" decision or something to be "happy" about.

  6. Lots we don’t know, but time to think about athletics

    There's lots we don't know, and probably will never know due to issues around minors and privacy.  Other than knowing the varsity baseball season has been prematurely ended, we don't know what consequences have been given out by the ETHS administration to the girl/girls who sent the pictures, and the boys and any other students who may have forwarded them.

    I'm of two minds about punishment for the girl/girls who took and sent the photos. I agree that girls are often bullied or dared into doing this, and that life with a "bad rep" at a big high school can be hell. But not always. The most useful consequence for a girl in this situation might be loss of an unrestricted cel phone line and all social media, if that's even possible in this day and time. And lots of counseling.

    I sat through a Saturday morning athletic parent meeting last fall at ETHS during which Athletic Director Chris Livatino told us that his athletes were maintaining a B average and have a lower-than-average incidence of drug and alcohol use. Livatino also said "leadership" was going to be emphasized during this year's athletic seasons, meaning leadership on behalf of the athletes.

    Where was the student leadership on the ETHS varsity baseball team?

    I don't believe ETHS athletes necessarily have a lower incidence of substance abuse, or any other kind of misbehavior. From what I hear, there's tremendous variation on this from team to team and sport to sport.

    Are we as parents of athletes prepared to fully accept the consequences to the team when some team members do wrong? I hope we are.

  7. Accountability

    Way to go ETHS and superintendent!!  Proud to see they are doing the right thing and by doing so, are adhering to high standards set for our children. Too often offenses by athletes are brushed over.  This should send a message loud and clear about appropriate and acceptable behavior.

  8. Why punish the whole team for the actions of a few

    I'd like to know how many varsity baseball players were involved. If it were just a few players that got the texts and distributed them then I don't think the whole team should have suffered by forfeiting the playoffs.

    I wonder how easily  Witherspoon would have forfeited the playoffs for ETHS' basketball or football teams if the same situation occurred.  

    If the girls had not sent the nude texts then none of this would have happened. I wonder if any of them are involved in clubs or sports. Perhaps more event cancellations are in order?

    1. The reason they had to

      THe reason they had to forfeit was because there weren't enough varsity players after those specific team members involved with the sexting were disciplined according to the athletic code/school rules.  

      1. With limited info, I think punishment is too harsh

        How many varsity players were involved?  How many female students sent nude photos and how were they disciplined? Questions, questions.

        It's hard as a parent to see this especially when, as an example, a Democrat politician lies but  is caught sexting photos of his johnson and now is running for mayor of New York. 

        If we're going to come down hard on teen boys for passing around nude photos teen girls had sent them then the punishment needs to fit the crime in our society and meted out equally to the girls who sent them.

        What message does Anthony Weiner's announcement that he will run for mayor of the biggest city in America   send to the our youth?

        Meanwhile, the city of Evanston decriminalizes marijauana possession because the mayor and aldermen didn't want a criminal record attached to teenagers. So it's OK to possess less than 7 grams of marijuana, you'll just get a ticket, or sext nude photos? I say this with tongue in cheek but if the girls aren't punished then really what message does that send?

  9. This is tragic

    This is tragic.  

    720 ILCS 5/11-20.1 Child Pornography Statute.

    Any nudity and it is child pornography.

    Many futures may have just been destroyed.

  10. Knee-jerk reaction

    I feel it was a wrong reaction to an unfortunate lapse of judgement.

    This type of risque behavior is not new and has existed before – but before we did not have Internet and out-of-control instant distribution.

    Also, I am not a lawyer – but let's not throw around felony charges on this forum.

  11. Nice Job ETHS!

    Sometimes it has to be about more than just about a baseball game, basketball game, soccer game, football game.

    My son played for a highly ranked Chicago Public High School and was hazed by varsity players on the team. School did nothing, athletic director did nothing and coaches did nothing. The hazing progressively got worse and continued for the entire season. My son ended up finishing the season and no longer plays the sport.

    Had his school taken the incident as seriously as ETHS did with this one, my son might still be playing the sport he has played for 10 plus years.  Bullying, hazing, sexting, all have to stop.

    It won't stop if athletic directors, principals and administrators don't start setting the bar high for what is acceptable behavior from its students.

    I am sad for the boys who were not involved that they had to miss out on a championship game. But I completely understand and appreciate the strong stance the school took. This will not be tolerated.

    I think they made their point loud and clear to all of their students.  Chicago Public Schools you should take a cue from ETHS. This is the way to run a school and an athletic program.  Bravo ETHS.

  12. “Code of silence” won’t be tolerated

    No one who's "innocent" was punished by the cancellation of the rest of the season.  Every boy on that team is guilty — if not of the sexting offense itself than of joining in the "code of silence" to cover up for those who actually did the sexting.  The boys who don't want to "tattle" on their teammates may be afraid of the social consequences.  This punishment shows them that there are consequences on the other side.

  13. The Girls?

    The  girls who sent those photos should also be reprimanded for what they did.  They should be suspended.  If they are graduating seniors, they should not be allowed to participate in graduation.

  14. The conversation needs to change

    Too often when incidents like this happen, we blame the victim—the whole short-skirt argument. But we need to stop seeing sexual assault et al only as a female "problem," that needs to be solved by educating girls how to avoid it. 

    We need to be teaching our young men just as much if not more so that they do more self policing, less high fiving. I am sure there were boys involved in this incident who knew in their hearts it was wrong but were afraid to speak up because they'd be called a "p*ssy."

    We need to turn that around, create a culture where more men say, "dude, that's not cool."

    So while I can see why people might be upset that the whole team got "punished," I too applaud the administrations handling of this. 

    With the Steubenville incident and others so fresh in our minds, I don't see how we can't come down hard on incidents to drive home the point that, "dude, that's not cool."

    1. Re: The conversation needs to change

      "Dude that's not cool" will start happening right after "dudettes" stop trying to use their looks to receive favors of various kinds.

      Isn't that exactly what was happening here?

      Also, groupies is a major motivator of boys participating in sports, music etc. Are you going to crush that as well?

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