Five Halifax County High School students and one former county high school student, all juveniles, face felony charges in relation to distribution of child pornography in an incident that has involved a number of students at the high school, according to South Boston Police Department records.

The six juveniles charged with distribution face five to 20 years in prison, while others involved in relation to the incident might not get charged if they participate in a child pornography diversion program being offered by county prosecutor Tracy Q. Martin.

A letter, signed by Martin that was shared by a parent with this newspaper, states, “I have the unfortunate duty to inform you that law enforcement possesses evidence that your child is one of a number of children who have recently committed the distribution of child pornography and could be charged with this severe violation of the law.”

Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg is aware of the growing problematic issue at the high school comparing it to spreading the flu.

“It’s like passing a germ,” said Lineburg.

He noted that 90 percent of teenagers have a smart phone making them accessible to sexting and possessing and distributing child pornography.

With facing challenges like Air Drop and other applications on smart phones, he questioned how could the school system contain it, and noted that a lot of infractions are made outside of school grounds and hours.

However, he said, “We’re working as hard as we can to educate our students and to take disciplinary measures when we can.”

The commonwealth’s attorney further states in her letter that after consideration, she is offering an alternative for involved students in the form of this diversion program rather than pressing charges.

“If your child qualifies for and successfully completes a child pornography diversion program, the commonwealth would refrain from bringing criminal charges in this instance. The first step of participating in the CPDP is for you and your child to attend a meeting at the following time and location,” said Martin.

In this meeting, the letter states the child and parent must attend and would hear the requirements about the program. They also will “hear a presentation about the dangers of minors taking and sharing nude and sexually explicit photographs and videos – actions which the law defines as manufacturing, possessing and distributing child pornography.”

After the presentation, the parent and child will have the chance to meet with a court services representative to ask questions, according to the letter.

“This meeting is an informal attempt to address your child’s behavior without bringing criminal charges. Failure to engage in this program may result in criminal charges against your child,” Martin concluded in her letter.

In a released written statement Thursday, the commonwealth’s attorney said, “I cannot comment about any particular case because this involves juveniles who have a heightened need of protection and confidentiality. That said, in general, the creation and sharing of sexually explicit videos among teens has become a serious problem both nationally and in this community.

“Under the law, photographs and videos depicting sexually explicit content involving minors is child pornography – the creation or distribution of which are felonies. This office takes them seriously,” she added.

“The Virginia Code allows for certain juveniles to enter into diversion programs. The purpose of any diversion program is to steer the offending child away from the traditional criminal justice system, teaching them important lessons without creating a juvenile court record. Participation in any diversion program is not an admission of guilt. It is simply an alternative to the potential of further court action,” the statement concluded.

Attempts to determine the date the alleged incidents occurred and the dates the charges were filed against the six juveniles were unsuccessful as of press time Thursday evening.