They were sexting—and it sounds like the students at Canon City High School were doing their best to keep the photos locked down, hidden, private. But the police cracked the case and ruined hundreds of young lives:

Police say hundreds of sexually explicit photos of Canon City High School students have been discovered, many of which have their faces showing. The scandal involves more than half of the student population. At least 500 nude photos that were taken or sent by students have been confiscated. That's what came out at two meetings for parents Thursday night.

School officials say the problem went unnoticed for so long because the students were using a type of app called "Photo Vault." The app appears on the phone as something typical like a calculator or an audio manager, but if you type in a passcode, the app reveals secret files. "If you look at your kids phone, everything looks normal, but one of the apps turns out to actually be some way to send messages to and from others that aren't meant to be permanent," Superintendent George Welsh said. The police department, district attorney's office and the school district all agreed: they have never seen nude photos being exchanged by students at this large of a scale. The youngest person captured in the photos is reportedly in the eighth grade.

Police say anyone taking, sending and possessing nude pictures of underage students could face felony sex crime charges.

Dear Parents: Odds are good—way over 50%—that your kid is sexting. If you don't want to see your kid's life destroyed next, you might want to object to what the police are doing to the kids at Canon City High School.

Or, hell, maybe we should just go ahead and put all our kids on sex-offender registries. Let them prove they're not sexting—or Romeo-and-Juliet'ing or mooning or streaking—and then maybe we'll take them off sex-offender registries.

Sex-offender registries were supposed to protect young people—children—from predators. But they leave kids vulnerable to a new kind of sexual predator: sex-negative, moralizing scolds.