'Sexting' scandal rocks Bloomington High School North

More than 50 students interviewed by police

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - A "sexting" scandal has rocked Bloomington High School North, with administrators saying it's much farther reaching than they expected.

School officials say the investigation started out with a complaint from one girl who was worried about a naked picture of her going around. It eventually grew to encompass dozens of students.

"Basically it was brought to our attention with a student kind of seeking help where a photograph of her had been distributed by a former boyfriend following the break-up," said Principal Jeff Henderson.

The picture led Bloomington Police to interview more than 50 students. They found that both boys and girls shared naked pictures of themselves with students they were dating, or wanted to date. And it was happening more than officials could have imagined.

"I would say it's more prevalent that what this investigation even uncovered," Henderson said. "It appears as though it doesn't seem to be shocking to students for this to occur. It seems to be somewhat normal to them, which is disturbing."

Although none of the pictures were taken on school property, Bloomington High School North is cooperating with Bloomington Police. And even though the school just had a forum recently warning students about the dangers of "sexting" and "sextortion," they now plan to organize another one and have them regularly at the beginning of each school year.

Sharon Wailes has two children enrolled at Bloomington High School North. She said she trusts the school to handle the problem well, but also plans to have another conversation with her kids.

"I might ask them a couple questions. Maybe I'm an innocent, naive parent but I'd like to think that my kids aren't involved," Wailes said.

Students caught sharing naked photos could face felony child pornography charges -- which carry jail time and would require registration as life time sex offenders. No charges have been filed yet.

Indiana State Senator Jim Merritt has introduced legislation that would make it a misdemeanor for students engaged in "sexting" with underage classmates. Merritt says he hopes the bill becomes law so that students can learn from their mistakes, rather than paying for them for a lifetime.
 

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