Probe of students' nude Instagram photos expands
Posted February 20
Raleigh, N.C. — An investigation of nude photos of high school students appearing on Instagram has spread beyond Wake County, authorities said Thursday.
The State Bureau of Investigation said cases have been reported in Durham and Pitt counties, although Pitt County Schools spokesman Brock Letchworth said he's unaware of any nude student photos and has heard only cases of photos being shared without permission.
The Durham County Sheriff's Office said a 17-year-old girl reported Wednesday that photos of her had shown up in social media accounts, and a 14-year-old girl told the school resource officer at her middle school on Thursday that nude photos of her were being shared online.
"I anticipate the number of reports of this nature we receive will increase as children and parents become more aware of this type of behavior on social media," Deputy Paul Sherwin said in an email to WRAL News. "The responsibility of children’s safety on the Internet ultimately falls on parents, who must take every step possible to ensure their kids are being safe online."
Sherwin said investigators are researching applicable laws in the case, "given that the likely ages of those involved are all under 18 and the photographs were most likely taken and distributed willingly to at least one other person."
Durham Public Schools spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said the district's school resource officers plan to begin an educational campaign "to reiterate the seriousness and potentially life-changing consequences of unsafe behavior online."
The district also has put together a team of administrators to develop a strategy for addressing the impact of social media in students’ lives and to give students and staff tools to reduce the risk of inappropriate online behavior.
A mother in Wake Forest told police there last week that her daughter learned that nude photos of her were showing up on Instagram and Twitter. Wake Forest investigators have subpoenaed Facebook, which owns Instagram, for information on four accounts.
Wake County Public School System security personnel believe photos of nude boys and girls from Enloe High School, Athens Drive High School, Rolesville High School, Holly Spring High School, Heritage High School and Middle Creek High School were on the accounts, according to court documents.