Police are investigating reports of images being shared in a Snapchat group showing nude juveniles, and a school official urged parents to do a better job of monitoring what their children are doing online.
Town of Beloit Police Chief Ron Northrop said police are trying to identify people depicted in the photos and who posted them, but as of Tuesday afternoon, none had been identified.
Northrop said the investigation is in its preliminary stages, and police in the city of Beloit are investigating, too.
As part of the investigation, police are asking Snapchat to preserve the images, Northrop said.
Possession or sharing of photos showing nudity or anything sexual could fall under state child-pornography statutes, Northrop said.
The ages of those involved is unclear. It’s also a felony to publish images of nudity of adults without permission.
Police are working with Child Protective Services, the district attorney’s office and school authorities, Northrop said.
The problem came to light when students alerted teachers in the Beloit Turner School District, Superintendent Dennis McCarthy said.
McCarthy seemed displeased schools have become a focus for questions even though nothing happened at school.
“They’re doing it at home,” McCarthy said.
“We notified law enforcement in order to provide them with the Snapchat user name accounts of concern so they could investigate any user names associated with these concerns,” McCarthy said later in a prepared statement. “We do not have the ability or access to investigate matters of this nature, but the police do.”
The school district also sent a letter to parents.
“We felt this was information that should be shared with all parents, as these were actions that were occurring at home or away from school,” McCarthy wrote.
“As a small group of individual students were being interviewed, there were many generalized statements, such as, ‘There are all kinds of students involved in the area.’ Parents, or school officials for that matter, would clearly not know this unless they were made aware,” McCarthy wrote.
“Given the nature of the actions described, it was pretty clear parents were likely not aware,” McCarthy continued. “When the school can work together with parents to help them talk about these matters with their own children, we should share the concern and allow the parents to work with their child in order to assure their safety.
“We encourage all parents to be more diligent with their students and their social media activity,” McCarthy said. “Many parents trust their own child would not be doing things like this, but the reality is unless they are checking their children’s social media activity on a regular basis they may not know.
“... As parents, we typically own a child’s phone or at the very least can be in charge of their actions,” McCarthy said. “Children need to understand this, as well. They do not have a ‘right’ to a phone and to simply access content in any way they see fit.
“Unfortunately, there are people in this world who will take advantage of children, and the magnitude of these actions may not be realized until after the fact,” McCarthy wrote.