French police are investigating what they say is the gang rape of a 19-year-old woman, broadcast on social media, according to BBC news.
In a video that appeared on Snapchat Monday, and later Twitter, the young woman was attacked by four men. The videos have now been blocked, but police are not only looking to identify the four perpetrators, ages 25 to 30, but whoever filmed and shared the footage on Snapchat.
Media outlets that viewed the social media footage, reported that the victim was drunk and could be heard crying. Another voice in the footage warned, “Stop filming, it’s a rape… it’s a rape, it’s a rape.”
This is not the first, nor likely the last, Snapchat led investigation by police. WebSafety team member, Clayton Cranford has worked in law enforcement for years and says his son will never have Snapchat.
“My 17-year-old wants Snapchat. He desperately wants Snapchat. I told him no, and he didn’t like that answer. I’ve just written way too many crime reports with Snapchat being involved.”
This tragic scenario is just a firm reminder that teens and young adults need guidance and direction when it comes to how they manage their social media accounts. Youth advocate and digital parenting expert, Kacee Bree Jensen, encourages parents to teach specific guidelines to your kids when they start using a social media account.
“We don’t talk to strangers. We don’t give out private information. We don’t ever post our location when we’re there. If people feel the need to use GEOtags on things like Instagram or Snapchat, wait a day and make sure it is not anywhere that you frequent.”
But just as in this police report, it is not only the victim and perpetrators who play key roles in the story. With the ever changing and developing way to disseminate information through social media apps like Snapchat, parents have to teach their children how to share content safely and respectfully.
“Kids are growing up in a digital age where live tweeting and live videos have become a way of life. But do our kids understand about the importance of privacy and consent when sharing other people’s information?” asks Parv K. Jessy, author and creator of KidsNClicks.
In a recent piece she shared with WebSafety, Jessy recommends talking to children about thinking and evaluating what they are filming or tweeting before sharing anything live. Just like in this case, a horrific video could spread virally and make international news in a matter of days.
Finally, just allowing our children exposure to apps like Snapchat, opens them up to videos like this gang rape, that may be shared and spread across the platform.
“Snapchat is such a disaster for some of these kids’ mental health: the constant bullying that goes on, not to mention it’s so easy to find porn, even if you’re not wanting it and photos sent you that you don’t want,” said WebSafety team member and youth advocate, Collin Kartchner.
Snapchat accounts are restricted to users under the age of 13, but Kartchner says just because your kid is old enough, they shouldn’t be on Snapchat to view these shocking videos, and they definitely shouldn’t be on alone.
“If your children are on social media, you better be on there with them. If they are your child and they live in your home (and you are paying for their cell phone), there is no such thing as privacy. Snapchat and Instagram are not their diary, they are apps that have the ability to ruin lives for these tweens and teens.”
Kartchner also advocated for a National Delete Snapchat Day that became wildly popular after parents rallied together to encourage Snapchat and Cosmopolitan Magazine to remove an X-rated channel from its content catalogue.