That adolescent boys tend to be attracted to pornography should surprise nobody from this side of the Victorian era.

It should surprise fewer still that the World Wide Web has infinitely more -- and infinitely more explicit -- material than the pilfered girlie magazine that the previous-generation young male stashed in his bedroom closet or some other hiding place.

Least surprising is that police and school officials would frown upon any school employee who might provide 14 and 15 year olds with access to an Internet porn site.

But what apparently IS a surprise to some web-savvy but impulsive young people is that words you post on social media sites in the virtual world can have real-world consequences. And like the helium balloon you release, it can be near impossible to get them back.

Allegations that an assistant coach of the Staples High School freshman football team gave players an access code to a premium porn site have challenged educators while at the same time teaching difficult lessons to some of the students and alumni who rushed online to defend the coach.

The incident also has raised at least one serious question about how school officials handled the situation. Police last week charged the 40-year-old coach, Mike Pickering, with three counts of risk of injury to a minor -- each charge a felony.

He has been an assistant football coach at Staples for nine years, according to a biography that was removed from a Staples football website soon after the police investigation came to light. He also has been an employee of the high school maintenance department.

It is crucial to note that Pickering has not been convicted of anything; he will have the opportunity to answer the charges in court and is scheduled to appear there Monday.

School officials said he has been "removed" from any contact with students, but they have refused to say whether he was terminated, suspended or assigned some other status.

One of the ironies of the case is that police said Pickering told them there had been conflict on the freshman squad and he gave players the porn-site access code as a way of building "camaraderie among members of the team."

Among the broader student population, however, the incident has created strife between students and alumni who have defended the coach and those who have condemned his alleged actions.

One supporter of Pickering, whose nickname is "Pick," created a Facebook "group" page titled "Free Pick." On it, posted comments urged students to support the coach by wearing sunglasses (a Pickering habit) and donning shirts with "Free Pick" printed on them. By early this week, the page had 835 members -- the vast majority supportive of the coach.

But with that came problems: the realization that making a brash spectacle might not be in the best interests of the coach's real-world legal problems; warnings from school officials that online bravado lives forever in cyberspace and could damage future college or job aspirations; and implied threats to a perceived whistle blower and others who criticized Pickering's alleged actions.

With the brashness quickly being dialed back, one student who had been electronically vocal in the "Free Pick" movement contacted the Westport News this week, saying, "I don't want to be associated with this" any longer. The support for Pickering points to two related value systems -- one ancient, the other decidedly 21st century.

The ancient one is the male locker-room mentality that sex is sport, females are to be lusted after and lascivious behavior is all in good fun. It took human resources professionals a generation to purge overt reflections of that from workplace cultures. The locker room remains one of its final frontiers in "polite" society.

The 21st-century twist is the ease with which many modern youth publicly dismiss the alleged offense as no big deal, no cause for even the slightest embarrassment -- never mind criminal charges. One is left to assume they've viewed enough of it for porn to be pedestrian.

While school officials contacted parents quickly and "removed" the alleged offender, they are not off the hook.

Police say they knew nothing of the incident until a news reporter asked them about it. Police contacted school officials, not vice versa.

We're anxious to hear what school officials were waiting for. Let's hope they didn't want to keep it in house.

That would be obscene.