San Diego police are searching for those responsible for sexually explicit images of underage girls. NBC 7's Steven Luke explains where investigators think the images originated.
San Diego police say criminal charges will be filed in a sexting ring involving dozens of students from several high schools and one middle school.
According to investigators, it started with a dozen girls sending nude photos of themselves to their boyfriends. Then, the boyfriends passed the pictures on to their friends, creating a web of photo sharing.
“They are fully nude shots, sexually explicit of some of our high school students,” San Diego Police Lt. Chuck Kaye said.
While the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) is not releasing the names of the schools involved, investigators say they have identified 30 students from six high schools and one middle school they believe were involved in the sexting ring.
While it may just seem like fun between friends, possessing and distributing these types of images is against the law and considered child pornography.
Sara Napoli of the San Diego Police Foundation says the group hopes to use this incident as a teaching moment. Napoli says teens are dealing with the same issues they always have, only on a multimedia platform.
“Budding sexuality, wanting to be accepted, wanting to fit into their peer circle," she said. "Unfortunately, this behavior can have the exact opposite effect."
Karen Braswell has a junior and senior at Hoover High School. To her, times have changed but values have not.
“It comes to empowering our kids and starting when they are young and having an open communication with them,” Braswell said.
“Everybody sees everything . If you don't want it shown don't post it,” she said.
Most family digital phone plans have parent restriction options that prevent the sharing of photos.
Another option that doesn't cost extra - any picture taken with a phone in the family plan is shared with the other phones in that plan.
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Source: San Diego Police Department