- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Eight Anchorage juveniles found with electronic images defined as child pornography have been charged in juvenile court, Anchorage police announced Tuesday.

“These people were charged with possession or distribution of child pornography, and the images fit those definitions,” said Detective James Estes.

More than 1,000 images were found on 20 electronic devices seized from students in what police called an “Instagram ring.” Instagram is a photo-sharing social medium platform.

Photos included pictures children had taken of themselves, Estes said.

Police launched an investigation in February after taking reports of online accounts that contained nude photos. The police Cyber Crimes Unit worked with police officers assigned to schools and interviewed more than 50 students.

Estes said that because the cases deal with juveniles, he did not want to give out much information about specifics of the cases.

There are seven definitions of child pornography, Estes said. It does not have to depict a sex act, but can be a picture of a naked child. The common thread is that the subject in the pictures has to be younger than 18.

“A naked person could be considered child pornography if the focus is on the genitalia,” Estes said.

That includes pictures taken by teens of themselves.

“A lot of these images were ‘selfies,’” he said. “They were taken by the individuals themselves.”

If a teenage boy took a picture of his genitalia, sent it to his girlfriend and she received it, it could constitute manufacturing, distributing and possessing child porn.

“In one photo, in theory, you could have three charges,” he said.

Manufacturing child pornography is a felony level offense, he said.

Police are urging parents to monitor the technology and social media programs their children are using, Estes said.

“All these kids are ‘good’ kids,” he said. “They just made poor decisions.”

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