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Virginia teen sexting ring investigation

One recent study showed that close to 30 percent of high school students have sent sexually explicit messages from their cell phones. The widespread use of smart phones and social media websites may play a part in the increase in sexting among teenagers. Sexting is currently a major concern for the state of Virginia. Recently, authorities began investigating a possible sexting ring involving more than 100 teenagers in the area.

Virginia law enforcement caught wind of the possible scandal in late March when the mother of a teenage girl became suspicious of her daughter's activities on Instagram. A high school student later told reporters that a few boys started an Instagram page and posted naked pictures they had received from young girls. Authorities say that they have found over 1,000 photos and several videos of naked teenagers, ranging from about 14 to 17 years of age. Investigators believe that the photos on the site, while explicit in nature, appear to be consensual.

So far, over 25 phones have been confiscated from teens that received pictures or accessed the website. Authorities are trying to determine who is responsible for starting the webpage.

The posting of explicit photos of children under the age of 18 could lead to serious criminal charges, even if a person under 18 is doing the posting. Many suggest that child pornography laws do not apply to sexting by minors, but, technically, it can fall under that category. It is often up to the prosecution to decide whether to file those charges. In previous cases, some sexting offenders are charged with cyberbullying for posting these types of photos. Teenagers facing any sort of charges should be aware of the serious consequences that can result from this type of crime.

Source: ABC News, "Police Bust Virginia Sexting Ring Involving More Than 100 Teens," Liz Fields, April 5, 2014

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