Police investigate an alleged incident involving "inappropriate" pictures and Joplin High School students. Police won't say how many students might be involved in this alleged picture-sharing crime. But investigators say there's a growing problem of local teens sharing nude and other inappropriate pictures.
"There is an active investigation involving students of the high school," says Sergeant Trevor Duncan with the Joplin Police Department.
Duncan says this case involves students allegedly sharing "inappropriate" pictures, but says he can't release if the alleged pictures include nudity. Nonetheless, there could be criminal charges. Police won't say if the alleged picture sharing happened on or off school campus, but officials with the school district say the police investigation began at Joplin's high school.
"The investigation is too early to say anything about where it happened, or why it happened," says Duncan.
But police do say this alleged incident may end up part of a local trend; underage teens have been using social media to share inappropriate pictures of themselves, friends, and acquaintances.
"There is a pattern that we, locally, experience it from time to time where juveniles get involved in it," says Duncan.
Duncan says Joplin is in this type of pattern.
Police say somehow, for various reasons, teens get lured into sending inappropriate pictures, whether it be through text message or the internet. Regardless of why it happened, Duncan has a warning.
"Even if they're getting away with it right now, it'll come back on them. Somebody will see it. They may decide they want it to go away, and it'll be circulating forever. It usually will come back to haunt them. It'll follow them. It'll come up when they least expect it. So it's important to understand the consequences," says Duncan.
Duncan also says teens under the age of 18 need to realize that sending nude pictures of themselves to someone else is a crime, regardless of consent.
"If it doesn't feel right, and they feel like they shouldn't do it, then they probably shouldn't," says Duncan.
...It's advice from police who are trying to reverse a growing problem.
Police say they have been in contact with Joplin High School administration about this case. The school district's public information officer says the district is working on updating curriculum, with input from all grade levels, to "better address safety and trends" when it comes to social media and texting.
The school district's public information officer says there is only one alleged inappropriate picture.
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