High schoolers could face serious consequences for sharing inappropriate photos

Authorities haven't detailed exactly what was shown in the images.

Shakopee Public Schools is investigating "inappropriate images" that may have been shared among students.

FOX 9 says a student approached a school resource officer in late January about members of a boy's team sharing several inappropriate images of girls.

The students sharing the photos were using a so-called "vault" app disguised as a calculator, WCCO reports.

Vault apps are designed to hide pictures and information – and this isn't the first time they've been used by students. The New York Times says students in Colorado were caught using a vault app to share hundreds of nude photos in 2015.

Authorities have not said what exactly the photos in the Shakopee investigation showed. A spokesperson for Shakopee Public Schools told GoMN this is an active investigation involving data privacy restrictions, so no details are available.

Included was a statement from the superintendent, encouraging parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of sending inappropriate images to each other.

"Today’s students are connected to one another, and to the world, via digital technology more than any previous generation," Superintendent Dr. Rod Thompson said. "Everything sent over the internet or a cell phone can be shared with the entire world, which is why it is important to exercise good judgment in sending and/or sharing messages and pictures."

Serious consequences are possible

Authorities are warning that this type of behavior should be taken seriously.

Underage students cannot consent to a nude photo. Which means if the images passed around contain nudity, anyone who forwards the photos could potentially face criminal charges.

“Every individual that gets that picture, every individual that forwards that picture could potentially be charged with possession or distribution of child pornography,” Scott County Attorney Ron Hocevar told WCCO.

Police are also encouraging parents to talk to their children about using phones responsibly.

"We are encouraging parents to take this opportunity to discuss the long-term consequences of disseminating this type of material," Shakopee Police Chief Jeff Tate told GoMN.

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