A Ridgewood elementary school principal is asking parents to speak with their children after a "graphic" text message made the rounds to 5th graders.
According to a letter sent by Somerville Elementary School Principal Lorna Oates-Santos to parents on Tuesday, a text message "is circulating among our 5th grade students that is rather scary, quite graphic and inappropriate."
The text message is a chain-mail message demanding that recipients forward the message to other students or "bad things will happen to you," Superintendent Dan Fishbein said, without elaborating. Fishbein said the internet-based chain mail message has been around for more than five years. It was not sexual in nature.
"It is clear that this message was not created by a student at our school; rather, it comes from the internet and is spreading like wildfire," Oates-Santos wrote to parents. "Our students, however, are involved in forwarding the message and writing about it."
She was not immediately available for comment Wednesday afternoon.
But school personnel are asking that parents of 4th and 5th graders encourage children to report anything that they find uncomfortable and to shut off their phones before bed to get a good night's rest.
"This open dialogue is helpful and should be encouraged and applauded," Oates-Santos wrote. "Talk to your children about the implications of forwarding something inappropriate or scary to others. Even if they did not construct the email, forwarding it makes them part of the problem. I hope you seize this opportunity as a chance to speak to your children about social media."
The impact of social media has made headlines in village schools in the last few weeks.
Nude photographs of high school students surfaced and prompted district officials to demand the images be deleted, while also calling on parents to partner with them to highlight the risks of social media pose for students.