A Teenage Sex Video Snapchat Went Viral — And People Reacted in the Worst Possible Way


Controversy erupted in South Fort Myers High School earlier this week after a video of a 15-year-old girl engaging in sex acts in the bathroom with more than two dozen male students, including several football players, went viral. The clip spread from Snapchat and Twitter to numerous sites across the web. 

In the following week, media outlets across the country ran the following headlines: "Girl, 15, had sex with 25 boys in high school bathroom," "South Fort Myers Sex Scandal: Girl Has Sex With Over 15 Boys In School,"  and "Is This Real Life? Teen Girl Caught Having Sex With 24 Boys In School Bathroom." Social media users followed suit, we've deleted the users' names and avatars so they are not identifiable. Much of the conversation focused on the behavior of the young woman, rather than the teenage boys who were also in the bathroom with her:

Since the incident took place on May 17, 16 students have been "disciplined" by the school and there are reportedly no more "disciplinary actions pending," as the school's spokeswoman told News-Pres, in part because "not every young man who entered the bathroom engaged in sexual activity." The school district declined to comment or elaborate further other than to send an email to Mic stating: "The District is taking this opportunity to review supervision protocols and we remain committed to ensuring our schools are safe learning environments for all students."

Meanwhile, the Lee County Sheriff's Office confirmed in an email interview that the case is still under investigation. Some of the men face potential charges of lewd or lascivious battery, aka statutory rape.

Later, it became clear the incident was more complex — and frankly, more horrifying — than initial media reports indicated. According to NBC2 News, the girl's mother nominated Megan Estrem, CEO of a local advocacy group for human trafficking victims, to speak for the family because the female student was previously a sex trafficking victim. Estrem told NBC2 news she had worked with the female student before and that she was new to the school, and had only been there for two weeks before the incident went viral.  

According to Estrem, the young woman went into the bathroom to talk to a boy she had a crush on. The boy allegedly "wanted sex," several others participated and many fellow students treated the event as a "spectator sport." 

"She was only 13 when she was trafficked," Estrem told NBC2, "She was not equipped to make a stable, rational decision in that situation [in the school bathroom]." Mic reached out to Estrem but she declined to provide any further comment.

This is not the first time that a young woman has been maligned on social media, while the male participants have largely been spared. In 2013, Canadian teenager Rehtaeh Parsons died by suicide after a video of male peers raping her went viral and peers bullied her for over a year. Then in 2014, yet another video of teen rape went viral, this time featuring the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl named Jada in Houston, Texas. Following the publication of the video, Jada was actually cyber bullied by her classmates, who created a hashtag mocking her "pose" in the video. 

Unfortunately, the public response to the Florida story has been all too similar: According to Estrem, the teenager's mother removed her from school afterward to shield the teenager from waves of slut shaming rumors and bullying. Meanwhile, it's not clear how many of the boys are being investigated, nor if the boy who recorded and published the video will face charges.