‘It really is traumatizing’: Amid school nude photo investigation, Rape Crisis Center encourages supporting victims, talking with children

MADISON, Wis. – As the State takes the lead on an investigation into Middleton High School students who may have shared nude photographs of minors, the Rape Crisis Center is encouraging parents to speak openly with their children and support victims in situations like this.

Senior Director of Education Missy Mael said with new technology in the hands of teenagers, an action that takes less than a second can have long-lasting consequences.

“Those images never go away,” Mael said.”If (a photo) is on your device, you are in possession of child pornography if that person is under 18. If you send it, you could be charged with distribution.”

Mael was sad to hear students at Middleton High School may be involved in such a situation.

“I’m a parent of teens, so my knee-jerk reaction is always, how is this affecting my kids?” she said.

Her first thought was how best to support those hurt.

“The best thing we can do is just listen, not shame them or make them feel guilty,” Mael said. “I think that we tend to minimize things like this, like we get really aggravated because we feel like they’re making poor choices and we forget that there are victims of things like this and it can be really hurtful and cause issues in school.”

Mael recommends that schools teach about the consequences of sending nude photos in sex ed class and work to create a culture of consent “where it’s not cool to share pictures or say, ‘Hey, did you see this picture of so-and-so?'”

The Middleton Cross Plains School District sent a note to parents Thursday afternoon saying staff has been “working tirelessly to support our students who have been impacted by the investigation” and asking parents to encourage their children to seek student services staff if they more support.

“It is really traumatizing,” Mael said.

She encourages all parents to talk openly with their children, asking questions rather than lecturing them.

“If you sit down with them and say, “What do you think would be the consequences might be if you send a nude pictures to someone?’ then maybe add to it if they forget something, they’re going to remember it better if they came up with it themselves,” Mael said.

Comments

comments