Several girls at an Anne Arundel County middle school have been sending close-ups of their genitalia and breasts, and few photos with full frontal nudity, to friends and boyfriends who passed them along to another boy who created an Instagram page with the photos.
The page uses the Chesapeake Bay Middle School’s initials in its tag: CBMS_HOES_. The page has been blocked.
But it immediately created a social media firestorm. “Very sad and disappointing that children of that age would do something so inappropriate,” one mother posted in a lengthy string of Facebook comments. “I hadn’t heard about it…but just asked my son. He had,” posted another.
Anne Arundel County school spokesman Bob Mosier said school officials learned of the page earlier this week. He said that even though the page has the school’s initials, it isn’t necessarily the school’s problem.
“This is an Instagram page with the initials of our school. That does not mean it’s a school page. It doesn’t mean it’s used by students solely at our school.” He said this kind of social media conduct is disturbing but “nothing new”.
“This is a societal issue. This is not an issue that falls solely on the school’s shoulders,” Mosier said. “Schools play a big part. Parents have to play a big part as well.”
Many parents with children in the middle school found out about the situation through word of mouth and Facebook. They said they asked their kids about it – and the kids already knew.
The youngest of Lisa Almendra’s three sons, is in seventh grade at Chesapeake Bay Middle. She says it’s a terrible situation but not uncommon to hear about middle schoolers in their community using snapchat, group texting, and Instagram to send illicit messages. What really upset her is she hasn’t heard anything about it from the school.
“I mean we get a letter home when they’re going to spray a pesticide but we don’t get a letter home when there’s a pornographic site out there about the school?”
Many parents are still learning about the photos. Others worry that the parents of the girls involved and boys who distributed the photos don’t know about it.
Lt. T.J. Smith, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Police, says the department is investigating. But judging from what they’ve learned so far, the kids won’t face criminal charges.
“A nude picture in itself is not pornography,” Smith says, “the threshold for pornography gets into the sexual intent of the photographs. It’s wrong, but it’s not necessarily illegal.”
Smith says they’re focusing on educating the middle schoolers about the risks they’ve taken. This kind of incident must be discussed in the community and he wants to get to it before it turns into anything else – like cyber-bullying against the girls who took the photos.
“You put yourself in a vulnerable position when you put these photos out there. It might have been in the past that the class knew about it but now the whole school knows about it with a single tweet,” Smith says.