Federal and local law enforcement, and even a convicted drunk driver with a compelling story gave students at Coronado High an eye-opening presentation this week meant to curb disturbing trends like sexting, vaping and driving under the influence.
“We’ve had to address some of these issues on campus and we felt it would be great to be proactive and have these experts come in and talk to our students about these issues,” said Ron Dentinger, Coronado assistant principal. “These are all issues that are really important for our students to be aware of, so they can have a successful high school experience.”
Alex Bustillos, child exploitation task force coordinator with the FBI, spoke to students by grade level in the fine arts theater. His focus was cyberbullying and sexting.
“My purpose in doing these presentations is to be proactive to not let a kid become a victim, not letting kids’ videos or imagery out there for the world to see and never be able to get it back,” Bustillos said.
He wanted students to realize the severity of taking a nude or inappropriate photo of themselves and send it to another student.
“Children don’t seem to understand it’s against the law because they believe, ‘hey, it’s my body. It’s my phone. I paid for it,’” he said.
If the receiving student sends the photo, regardless of the circumstances, it also is against the law.
“The first thing they should do is tell a trusted adult and call the authorities,” Bustillos said. “What you do not want to do is take a screenshot of it or send it off to someone else, like a parent.”
The FBI has a cyber tip line to report child photos or videos containing obscene content and if someone asks for a child to send sexual images, speaks to a child in a sexual manner or asks to meet a child in person. The tip line can be accessed at CyberTipline.org or call 800-843-5678 or 915-832-LOST (5678).
A convicted drunk driver, who remained nameless, also gave a startling presentation to students detailing how his life changed when he made the decision to drive drunk.
He stressed the importance of thinking before drinking, and asked students to consider an Uber or other transportation if they become intoxicated. “Think before you take the wheel,” he said.
EPISD Police Officer Chris Rodriguez ended the assembly with a presentation on e-cigarettes and vaping.
“We’re seeing e-cigs and vapors coming into students’ possession,” Rodriguez said. “We want to inform them that it is against the law for students under the age of 18 to possess these tobacco products. We’re trying prevent them from getting into trouble and also letting them know that this can affect their health. We hope this gets students to say ‘no to vaping’ or prevents a purchase.”
Although carrying tobacco products is not illegal for those 18 and older, students possessing these products on campus can still face disciplinary measures.
Freshman Zachary Courreges thought the presentation offered valuable information to students.
“I think it important for students to be aware of the consequences for actions they take and be educated on e-cigarettes and other things out there.”
Freshman Leslie Castillo thought Bustillo’s presentation served as a good reminder for students to be aware the consequences of sending inappropriate photos.
Her take away from the presentation: “Students need to watch what they do, be aware of their surroundings and don’t drink and drive.”