The following was included in TCTA's 2017-18 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2017 but is subject to change. The information below is for information purposes only, and is not intended to substitute for advice from an attorney.

Electronic transmission of certain visual material depicting a minor via a practice commonly referred to as “sexting” is a criminal offense. A minor commits an offense by knowingly possessing or promoting by electronic means to another minor, visual material that depicts a minor engaging in sexual contact (which is broadly defined and may include some forms of nudity), if the actor produced the visual material or knew that another minor produced it. 

A school administrator who possesses the visual material in good faith due to an allegation of the offense of electronic transmission of material depicting a minor has a defense to the crime of possession of child pornography. To rely on that defense, the school administrator must allow law enforcement or other school administrators to access the material only as appropriate and take reasonable steps to destroy the material within an appropriate period. Since the defense applies only to administrators or law enforcement officials, teachers and other employees should avoid taking custody of such material and should call an administrator to deal with the material or device.

The law also requires the development of programs that districts can use to address the legal, professional and social consequences of sexting and make available to parents and students in a grade level the district considers appropriate. 

Newly adopted legislation approved in 2017 states that a student may be placed in DAEP or expelled for releasing or threatening to release intimate visual material of a minor or of an adult student without the student’s consent. 

See also:

Online Contact With Students

Sexual Assault/Harassment

Professional Boundaries with Students

Tips for New Teachers

Classroom Discipline