Consider this week's investigation into the most recent "sexting" case in the Inland Empire -- authorities and school district officials are looking into whether five students at Rancho Cucamonga and Etiwanda High Schools spread semi-nude photos of teens to classmates via text messages and social media.
It's not hard to imagine the teens - who have been raised in the age of iPhones, Facebook and instant access to one another - considering their act little more than a prank. But this is not akin to sending someone's underwear up a flagpole, or replacing shampoo with glue.
It's a felony. Not exactly the kind of detail 17-year-olds want to put on their college application.
According to the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department, sending sexually explicit photos of children via text message, email - whatever - is a crime. Receiving and then forwarding those photos is also a crime.
Officials at Chaffey Joint Unified School District are taking a pro-active approach following reporting the incident Wednesday. Superintendent Mat Holton wasted no time before sending a message to teachers district-wide to encourage them to use the case as a "teachable moment." Holton says the school district discusses the dangers of sexting throughout the year, and the Sheriff's Department is doing what it can to support schools in getting the word out with presentations to various groups and distributing public service announcement-type DVDs.
The consequences for getting caught sexting can be serious - for the perpetrators, of course, but also for the victims. Images shared online can haunt children for years to follow.
So it's encouraging to hear local school and law enforcement officials addressing the issue head-on, because society does kids no favors when it fails to drive these kinds of messages home.