BETHANY, Okla. – Police have launched a child pornography investigation involving Bethany Public Schools students who admitted to allegedly sending and receiving nude photos of one another, according to the school district and court filings.
According to search warrant affidavits filed in Oklahoma County District Court, the investigation began after a school security officer discovered several child pornography images on five students cell phones March 12, and contacted Bethany Police.
“We are aware of the incident and, as by law, we have to turn that over to law enforcement,” said Bethany Public Schools Superintendent Drew Eichelberger, when reached by phone Thursday afternoon. “When we are made aware of something like this, our first call is going to be to the Bethany Police Department.”
According to court filings, when interviewed by the school security officer, each student admitted to having nude pictures of one another on their cell phones and admitted to receiving and sending the images to each other. Possession of pornographic material portraying minors, and dissemination of child pornography, is a felony.
Bethany Police were unable to comment Thursday.
Search warrants for the five teenagers’ cell phones, three girls and two boys ages 14 and 15, sought stored information including texts, social media posts, videos and photographs, after a security officer observed each phone contained pictures of the juveniles in various stages of undress, including genitalia.
Social media and tech experts warn parents that with a cell phone comes great responsibility, and it’s on adults to impress to children that as much good cell phones can do, they are a privilege.
“As parents, our job is to audit our children’s phone on a regular basis. Because, there’s not always a clear understanding of what is right and wrong,” said social media expert Patrick Allmond.
Allmond said there needs to be rules in place for phone usage and conversations must be had about what are appropriate things to share with friends, or those kids may meet online, and what is not and potentially against the law.
“It’s better to nip this problem in the bud than to have it to the point where the police are involved,” Allmond said.