Three students are facing multiple charges in connection with allegedly creating and sending sexually explicit images in Tredyffrin Township.
The ages of those charged range from 11 to 15, and the charges range from misdemeanors to felonies.
Police say the images included nudity and child pornography.
Some of the images consisted of pictures or videos of students who attended Valley Forge Middle School and Tredyffrin-Easttown Middle School, as well as photos retrieved from the internet, according to investigators.
Police say additional students are likely to be charged in the near future.
The charges stem from an investigation which began in April 2015 by Tredyffrin police.
In one case, what police describe as an intimate image of a sex act was taken off of the internet by a male student, then distributed and portrayed as being that of a female student to her classmates.
Police say this led to an assault at Tredyffrin-Easttown Middle School.
In another case, a student offered to sell an image of a classmate to another student.
“In one case, a parent didn’t realize that some of the images were actually uploaded to the Cloud and being were remotely stored,” said Detective Sgt. Todd Bereda with the Tredyffrin Police Department.
Police say most of the photos were selfies taken by students in their own homes with the location services setting on their phones activated.
Authorities say with the location service setting on, this would allow for viewers of the images, including child predators, to locate the homes of the juveniles via data stored in the picture file.
The alleged conduct has parents feeling more anxiety in a digital age where children are exposed to so much more.
“Disturbed, disgusted, in some ways not surprised because it just seems to be younger and younger that this is happening,” said parent Collene Kennedy, the mother of a sixth-grader. “I wonder if some of it is a normal development. What kids did, you know, back in the day, but they just didn’t take pictures or put them on a cell phone.”
Police say the parents have been fully cooperative.
But some parents differ about whether the students should be criminally charged.
“You have to clamp down and you have to stop it at some point in time,” said Steve Miller. “And if you don’t, if you let it pass, then things will lead on to worse situations.”