Snapchat app raises concerns following Hudson incident - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Snapchat app raises concerns following Hudson incident

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HUDSON (KWWL) -

A new photo-sharing smart phone app is raising some concerns right here in eastern Iowa.

Just last week, NBC's Today Show focused on the dangers of Snapchat.  Now a cyber "sexting" problem involving the app has popped up at Hudson High School.

The app is pretty simple.  You just snap a cell phone picture and send it to a friend.  What's unique is that the app automatically deletes the picture from cyberspace in 10 seconds or less.

A group of three Hudson High schoolers are concerned after one of their classmates recently became the victim of cyber bullying.  Using the smart phone app Snapchat, an inappropriate photo was taken of a female freshman in the locker room, and was sent to a male student.

"It's hurtful because she's such a great person and the person that did it--I really didn't expect it from her," said Hudson student Brandi Beck.

"Almost ruining someone's life and ruining their body image forever," said student Shelby Weaver.

"A lot of people are upset about it, and I think a lot of people will stop being so mean because high school is mean," said student Brittany Mulanax.

As much as it pains those three girls to know what happened to their classmate, they know the victim has been deeply hurt by the "sexting" incident.

"She's a lot more quiet.  When I see her with her friends in the hallway, she's kind of in the back of the group now.  She's just not herself," Mulanax said.

Before last week, the girls and Hudson schools had never heard of Snapchat.  But the app is becoming quite popular across the country with some one thousand pictures being snapped and sent every second.   School officials say it's a dangerous technology that make students feel they can get away with bullying and beyond.

"They don't think, oh gee, someone's mom might be looking over their shoulder, or a friend is looking in the hallway or maybe someone gave their phone to someone to use and that comes up.  We don't know is the picture still around?  Did someone take a screen shot of it?  Kids don't think about that.  A screen shot lives forever," said Dave Lipinski, Hudson schools at-risk coordinator.

Now the district and students hope the recent Snapchat situation will be a wake-up call to treat others like you want to be treated yourself, and think twice before sending a message that could be more damaging than you'll ever know.

"A little joke can definitely ruin your life and the victim's," said Weaver.

In addition to the emotional damage from "sexting" incidents, there can be criminal charges filed.  In the Hudson case, a report was filed with local police.  Just last month, six Independence high school students were charged with distributing an obscene photo after messaging a cell phone picture to other students.

Hudson sent a letter home to parents following the sexting incident, and held an assembly with students in 7th through 12th grades.

The superintendent also posted a blog about it.

What's encouraging about what happened in Hudson---many students have come out in support of the victim.  Students have posted notes on her locker with messages like, "You're beautiful."

Some students are urging harsher punishment in this and similar situations that may unfold in the future.  However, the district cannot comment on specific disciplinary actions taken against the student who sent the photo message.  It does, however, continue to require that students always ask permission when taking any photos, and that no pictures be taken inside locker rooms for any reason.

You can also read a response about Snapchat from the app's makers in the Today Show story.

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