‘Bodily autonomy is being invaded’: Students appear nude in AI-altered photos at London, Ont. high school

Students and parents at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School learned Tuesday evening of an incident that happened at the school recently through a letter sent by school administrators.

In the letter, the school described a “disturbing situation.”

The letter reads, “Over the last several days, some of our students’ pictures have been copied from their social media sites. Once copied, the photos have been altered using AI. In the altered photos, students appear to be nude. These photos have been distributed through group chats.”

“Which is very messed up, in my opinion,” Grade 9 student Devon Farmer described his feelings when learning of the situation. “I’ve heard a lot of talk about it recently with parents, counselors. It’s a big problem.”

The letter sent home to parents also indicated the London police were at the school Tuesday investigating the situation.

On Wednesday, the London Catholic School Board responded to CTV News’ inquiry of the situation.

“Once the school was made aware of the situation, police were contacted and we follow their guidance. Our practice is to make parents aware of certain situations as they arise and encourage them to have age appropriate conversations depending on the circumstances,” wrote the school board.

The school board also spoke about the efforts that are made to teach the ethical use of technology.

“When we talk about AI through that lens, we talk about how it’s very, very powerful and it can be really, really useful. But it also has some tremendous downsides we need to be wary of,” said Jim Pedrech, an innovation consultant with the board.

Kaitlynn Mendes is an associate professor of sociology at Western University. She said this trend is something that has become pervasive in the last three to six months, including a similar incident in Manitoba last month.

“It is really worrying how people’s privacy is being invaded, their bodily autonomy is being invaded. And I think it’s something that as a society, we really need to kind of get grips on and start having more discussions about,” she said.

The school said in its letter, “The creation and distribution of this material could result in disciplinary measures,” but did not go into detail to what extent.

London police have not released information on its investigation or the possibility of charges as of Wednesday.


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