SILVER SPRING, Md. - Montgomery County Public Schools has a serious warning for parents – nude photos of middle school students taken by Snapchat are being saved and posted online. Montgomery County police are now investigating.
According to the school district, students at A. Mario Loiderman Middle School and Farquhar Middle School came forward to report the website. They say it all started when they got a request from an anonymous user on Snapchat asking them for nude photos, which they provided.
“At middle school, you are vulnerable, you are learning new technology and sometimes you can be coerced into sending these photos,” explained Derek Turner, spokesperson with Montgomery County Public Schools.
With so many anonymous social media sites, it is difficult for parents to keep track.
“They are accessing more and more advanced technology where they are starting to outpace their parents in the use of digital media,” said Turner.
“Maybe your kids don’t tell you about it,” added Mary Fendrick, a Montgomery County parent. “You don’t find out about it until after the fact.”
According to the school system, once the nude photos are sent, they are saved to a website and shared with anyone who was given the password, including students around the district.
“They expose this child to long-term damage because their photos are forever online,” explained Turner. “Even though the site has been shut down, we know that new sites can pop up at any time.”
“It’s awful,” added Fendrick. “Teenagers these days have such a hard time navigating the social pressure.”
Montgomery County police are looking for the people responsible for the website. They are also investigating how many victims there could be and how many people had access to the site.
“It’s very serious in nature so they want to make sure they are very thorough in their investigation,” said Montgomery County Police Officer Rick Goodale.
Police also confirmed the nature of the charges would be determined by the perpetrator’s age. If they are an adult, they could face federal child pornography charges.
Meanwhile, Turner is encouraging parents to talk to their children about their social media activity. Authorities are advising parents to have the passwords for their children’s social media accounts and know who they are communicating with.
Montgomery County Public Schools is also providing curriculum in classrooms to teach students about digital citizenship.