by James Ford
A smartphone prank by some local high school students was actually child porn, according to prosecutors. Now, a whole town is having a collective frank discussion about personal discretion, internet use and privacy.“I feel bad,” said a Ridgewood High School senior girl about fellow students who had exchanged naked photographs over two popular applications, Snapchat and Instagram. ”They’re like, our friends. We’re close to some of these people.”
“Everyone had the pictures. Everyone had seen the pictures,” another student, a sophomore boy, said to PIX11 News.
“It’s almost like people think, ‘This’ll never happen to me,’” said Stephanie Weston, a Ridgewood High School senior.
What happened, however, ended up being big. Now, police investigators prepare to file charges of possession of child pornography and endangering the welfare of a child against anyone who does not delete from their phones or computers the photos that some freshman girls took of themselves on the Snapchat app.
A smartphone prank by Ridgewood high school students was actually child porn, according to prosecutors.
Snapchat is a popular image sharing app because it deletes pictures almost immediately after they’re sent from one Snapchat user to another. In the case of the Ridgewood High School freshman girls, however, the images went viral.
The girls snapped the photos of themselves naked, and sent them to a boy they know via Snapchat. The girls had assumed the images would be deleted about two seconds after they had sent them.
However, the boy knew how to screen grab Snapchat images before they disappeared. He captured the naked images, and uploaded them to his Instagram photo sharing app. From that point on, the pictures were online for anybody to see.
That was last fall, near the beginning of the school year, according to some students who had seen the pictures. ”They’d been going around school for awhile,” a sophomore boy told PIX11 News. ”People had seen them for awhile.”
That was last fall, near the beginning of the school year, according to some students who had seen the pictures. “They’d been going around school for awhile,” a sophomore boy told PIX11 News. “People had seen them for awhile.”
School administrators, however, weren’t completely aware of the problem until last week. The schools superintendent sent out a letter to parents Wednesday that said the posted images were “of real or simulated sexual acts… of naked or semi-naked persons.”
The letter called for parents to “promptly speak to their children about this behavior and to ensure that if their children are in possession of this type of material that it be deleted from their phones and other electronic devices immediately.”
If the images are not deleted by Monday at 7:00 A.M., the letter warned, anyone possessing them risked being arrested on child porn charges.
One mother, Jean Muchel, told PIX11 News that she had checked her 16 year-old son’s smartphone to ensure that it was free of the pictures of the girls. It was those girls, Muchel said, that she was most concerned about.
“They must be embarrased, humiliated. These things can last a long time.”
The girls and the boy involved could face in-school disciplinary action, according to the school superintendent.