At least 100 students at a high school in Colorado have been trading naked pictures of themselves using their cell phones. The news of this sexting ring has parents outraged and the authorities questioning whether to file child pornography charges against any of the participants.
Students at Canon City High School in Canon City, CO, were circulating 300 to 400 nude photographs of more than100 different kids on their cellphones. The children in the pictures were believed to be students at the high school, but also included eighth graders from the middle school.
Members of the high school football team were at the center of the sexting ring. In the wake of the breaking news, this weekend's football game was cancelled.
Naked or sexual pictures of a child are considered child pornography. It is a felony to possess or distribute child pornography, with serious consequences. But most of those who made and sent the photos were minors and some sent pictures of themselves. Law enforcement officials are not sure how to proceed with charges in this case.
News reports say that a significant portion of the student body at Canon City High School took part in the sexting ring, with boys and girls involved in about equal numbers. The photo-sharing, some of which took place in school, was done using cellphone applications called "vault apps" which look like innocent applications but are really hidden troves of photographs. Students at the school created a competitive system with points gained by acquiring the photo of a desirable student.
Parents have been notified about the apps that can be used to mask the sexting photographs.
News reports also state that some parents say they knew about the sexting ring for years and had not been able to get school officials to intervene. School officials said that they were aware of some sexting going on, but did not know of the size of the photo-sharing ring.
The district attorney's office is investigating whether any adults were involved, whether children were bullied into participating, and whether any illegal sexual contact occurred. No arrests have been made.