03/08/2012 08:07 EST | Updated 05/08/2012 05:12 EDT

School Sexting Incident Alarms Principal

A principal at a P.E.I. school says one of her students sent an explicit photo of herself to another student who was caught showing the photo to classmates Tuesday.

A student took a nude photo of herself and sent it to a friend's cellphone, according to Josée Ferron, principal of École François-Buote.

"I think her first reaction was perhaps disbelief, because she said, 'He told me he had deleted the photograph.' He did not," said Ferron.

"At this point, our main concern is, is it elsewhere? Is it already on the internet? If it is, unfortunately, there's nothing we can do."

The principal suspended the two students who received and passed on the photo.

She also called in Charlottetown police.

Deputy Chief Gary McGuigan said they were able to delete the photo from the students' cellphones and police are confident it hasn't made it onto the internet.

But McGuigan said stories like this are becoming more common.

Wake-up call

"Students who are sexting are under a mistaken belief that the images they send are going to remain private and confidential. Unfortunately, that's not the case. And once these images hit the internet, there's little or no chance of getting them back."

Police said a lot of young people don't understand is that if they're receiving or sending out an explicit photo of one of their peers, they're actually breaking the law.

Though it's rare, they could be charged with possessing or distributing child pornography

"We would encourage kids to think their actions through," said McGuigan. "We would encourage parents to pay close attention to what their kids are doing on social media."

Ferron said the incident has been a wake-up call for her too.

Up to now, she said the potential dangers of sexting and improper cellphone use hasn't been discussed with students.

"And that's my main concern because if this is part of their lives, how do we adapt? How do we in a school surrounding react? There's education obviously to be done."

Feron said she's already trying to line up a police officer to come in and talk to her students. She's hoping no one else will have to learn the hard way.