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News that nude photographs of young Madison girls had been posted on a new social networking app has town leaders and social services scrambling to help teens and parents better understand the ease with which private information can reach a global audience.
Photographs of Madison girls had been posted on Streetchat; they’ve since been removed. From the app’s Daniel Hand High School location, anonymous posts offered and requested photos of specific Madison teen girls.
A concerned Madison parent, with a daughter at Daniel Hand, brought the site to the attention of authorities.
To Madison Youth & Family Services Director David Melillo, “The issue isn’t a Madison problem. It is a societal, technological problem. And it’s also another indication that parents have to play catch-up when it comes to policing their child’s activities on the computer.”
Melillo continued: “This is a 21st-century issue. Kids are growing up in a far different world than their parents did. They also know much more about technology than there parents do.”
But while school-age children may know much more about the Internet than their parents, they don’t know, Melillo said, the long-lasting potential impacts of posting pictures or other content on the web.
“Some of what is posted could be considered breaking the law,” said Melillo, “such as harassment and/or threatening. It [posting on the web] also follows you, sometimes, thanks to Google, for the rest of your life.”
Melillo said Youth & Family Services recently sponsored a presentation on the dangers of the Internet, which included advising parents that there are computer programs available that can help parents police their children’s online patterns.
Youth & Family Services has worked with school officials, in the past, on Internet issues “such as bullying and suicidal concerns” posted online, Melillo said.
A Google search of Streetchat brings up the following description of the social network site: “Get a live text & photo feed of what people are posting around you. Streetchat is an anonymous local bulletin board to post message to the people around you. It is a fast reliable way to share your thoughts, gossip, and talk about things around you.”
Daniel Hand High School Principal Anthony Salutari, Jr., could not be reached for comment for this story.