Golden Bay High School is boosting its internet safety policies after pupils distributed sexualised images of a fellow student.
The "sexting" incident resulted in police involvement and the temporary suspension of the students who forwarded the content to other students.
The school said the incident occurred outside class hours and off its property, raising issues for parents and teachers.
"Recent incidents involving some of our students have highlighted concerns around the misuse of cellphones, Facebook and the like," said Golden Bay principal Roger File.
"A key question for parents to ask themselves is: what do I know about Facebook and my child's use of it?"
Deputy principal Stuart Machin said the incident underscored the inadequacy of its internet safety policies.
"The technology moves faster than our bureaucracy.
"We review the policies every three years but since then students have started using smartphones and it's become a lot harder for us to monitor when they are not using school computers or networks."
Mr Machin said the distribution of the images had profound social consequences for the student involved.
The girl approached school authorities after three students had obtained a sexualised image of her and sent it out to other high school students.
Takaka police investigated but would not comment, other than to emphasise the need to protect the identity of the girl so as not to "victimise the victim".
The students suspended over the incident are back at school.
Mr Machin said the school was seeking funding for cyber-security workshops and would review its internet policies to address the challenges posed by cellphones. A school-wide assembly was held to tackle the issue.
"There's a lot of work to be done," said Mr Machin.
"We're constantly struggling with the role of the school in private lives. The more time we devote to what students do outside school, the less resources we have to devote to education. We have to have the parents' involvement to make sure children are using technology appropriately."
Cyber-security expert John Parsons said sending on sexual images of a minor was against the law and needed to be taken seriously.
"In the United States some students have ended up on the child sex offenders list for similar misconduct.
"It's extremely serious and both parents and students need to have more awareness of the consequences."
This is the second incident in the past four months where Golden Bay High School students misused cellphone technology and ended up in trouble with the police. In December, students used cellphones to co-ordinate a late night beach meeting, and triggered a search and rescue operation.
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