Police warn teens not to share nude photos after Snapchat case

BRANDON — An alert was sent out to parents and students on March 29 from the Facebook page of the Brandon Police Department. The alert told about someone trying to lure students into sending nude photos over the social media app Snapchat.
Snapchat is a photo sharing application that allows users to send photos or videos to others on the app. The photos last for a short amount of time and are then deleted, although users can take shots of their phone screens to capture the image.
The alert sent to parents was also shared from the Facebook page of the school and read:
The Brandon Police Department received word today from staff at Otter Valley of an unidentified person(s) contacting students, especially females, asking for nude photos through the phone app “Snapchat.” The requests have been from two separate accounts with names that students are not familiar with, however, the person making the requests have been making veiled threats specifically towards females telling them if they do not send nude photos, he will publish photos of them that he already possesses. The person has already published a nude photo of a young female from another school district.
To all students: Please do not send nude photos of yourself online or through chat apps to anyone. If you are threatened to do so, please report your information to the police and your parents.
To all parents: Please speak with your kids about this issue and report any concerns you have to the police. We are working as quickly as possible to determine the person(s) responsible, however be mindful that once the photo is sent, it is out there forever.
Otter Valley Principal Jim Avery said the school starts educating students in middle school about the dangers of social media.
The middle school covers topics such as Cyber Safety, Cyber Bullying, and Social Media Netiquette. Students take surveys and react to real life situations to identify how others may perceive their cyber behaviors, while also creating informative Cyber Safety Guides through various media forms.
Avery said the middle school student council has also coordinated professional speakers in the past.
“Most recently, we have had presentations from John Halligan (father of Ryan Halligan, one of the first victims of cyber bullying as social media began to emerge),” Avery said. “Also, Jared Campbell, an award winning singer/songwriter from upstate New York and has been traveling the country performing for thousands of people and hundreds of schools over the past decade.”
Avery said in the high school they talk about the digital footprint. Students use current events (admissions, employment, scholarship candidates, celebrities) to illustrate the lasting effects of online posting.
“This spring they even looked at the old yearbook photos that surfaced; it’s not just online conduct,” he said. “They have conversations and share cyber guidelines as related to current events and issues in the national news.”
Late last week, Brandon police said in another Facebook post, “While we cannot reveal identities due to their ages, police learned the accounts that were making these requests and threats were actually accounts created by a juvenile male. The original photo the juvenile had posted to a “Snapchat story” is being investigated by another law enforcement agency as well as reports which were made to (Department for Children and Families).”
“This investigation was resolved quickly due in part to the excellent relationship the police department has with the staff at Otter Valley. Even more critical was the students who were contacted by these accounts that were courageous enough and willing to speak with police and school staff that helped us investigate the complaint,” the post continued, “Again, we encourage all parents to talk with their children about appropriate use of their phones and online presence. Remember, they are kids and at times don’t fully think things through to understand the consequences of their actions.”

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