JOHNSON CITY, Texas (KXAN) – An active investigation is underway in Blanco County involving Johnson City Independent School District after investigators discovered sexually explicit photos on social media.
“It’s an ongoing investigation of children distributing pornography amongst themselves and they were all minors,” said Cindy Keele, a Child Protective Services’ investigator. “The [FBI] still doesn’t know who it is.”
On Friday, March 2, Superintendent Richard Kolek sent parents a letter stating, “an active investigation into the misuse of the social networking app Snapchat by individuals to solicit inappropriate photos of minors.”
Kolek says Spring Break for the district kicks off Friday, so he knew he needed to act fast to educate the students.
“We want to make sure our parents and students get the message,” he said. “There’s a lot of downtime [during Spring Break], parents need to monitor what their children are doing.”
He says his goal is to raise awareness.
“You don’t know them? Block them,” said Keele. “It’s the easiest way to do it.”
Keele visited the high and middle schools at JCISD to teach students about the dangers and legal ramifications of using social media inappropriately. He also reminded students to be careful who they’re chatting with online because, in a virtual playground, not everyone plays nice.
“People who are acting as 15 or 16-year-olds freaked me out,” said one sophomore who sat through Keele’s presentation. “It made me be more aware of who I am interacting with on social media.”
Kolek says they plan to get to the bottom of the pictures being passed around but wants to remind the community, “This isn’t something that’s unique to Johnson ISD this is out there in every school district and social media around the world, so it’s important to receive this message.”
He says students should report any inappropriate behavior to a parent or teacher and says JCISD has an anonymous tipline, click here to leave a tip.
JCISD is not alone, the Austin Independent School District has online resources for parents to help steer cyber safety for their students. And one website the district recommends, especially when considering games and videos, is CommonSenseMedia.org.
On Wednesday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the LBJ High School Commons, the FBI will present information on the “predator” aspect of social media, as well as the potential ramifications for the “victim.” The presentation is open to anyone who would like to attend.