OSHKOSH - Oshkosh police are investigating an alleged sexting incident involving three teenage boys and a 12-year-old girl. Those involved are all students at the Valley Christian School.
Oshkosh police told FOX 11 the students traded nude pictures on their cell phones. The group of children includes a 15-year-old boy, two 14-year-old boys and a 12-year-old girl. According to police, the girl sent a nude photo of herself to the boys and one of the boys then sent a nude photo of himself. Officers told us the children also traded pornographic material from the Internet.
Valley Christian School leaders said in a statement they brought the alleged sexting incident to police attention.
By the time police spoke to the suspects Monday, the photos had been erased from the students' phones. Officers say the photos were taken about three weeks ago and that some of the activity took place on school property.
"They came out and said, 'yeah, this is what happened,'" explained Officer Joe Nichols.
Nichols told us it sounds like the 12-year-old girl faced peer pressure.
"Was coaxed into doing this by the older males that were there," he said.
Police recommended charges of disorderly conduct-unlawful use of a telephone for all four students.
Winnebago County District Attorney Christian Gossett told FOX 11 it's unclear whether they will actually be prosecuted. He said they could face juvenile detention if they are, but that the focus in cases like this is
"A lot of the juvenile system is built around protecting children and helping children," said Gossett.
Valley Christian is an interdenominational, private school for pre-school through high school students. Administrators at the school refused to talk with FOX 11 and answer questions on camera, but said in a statement they're very concerned by the events and, due to privacy concerns, won't comment further.
Law enforcement told us underage sexting is a growing problem.
"If a 12-year-old is involved in something like this, two 14-year-olds, and a 15-year-old, it could be more common than what we're actually seeing," said Nichols.
"The juvenile brain is not fully developed. So, you know, many children would probably act responsibly until put under peer pressure," added Gossett.
So authorities recommend parents take matters into their own hands.
"I think that's something parents need to keep in mind when they're deciding on cell phones and the type of cell phones," said Gossett.
"Parents have the right to take those phones and start looking through them, start seeing what's on them," said Nichols.
All four children are currently in their parents' custody.