Six Bridgewater, N.S.-area teens are facing child pornography charges following a 13-month investigation. 

The group, four 15-year-olds and two aged 18, are accused of distributing intimate images of 20 underage girls.

All 20 live or have lived in the Bridgewater area, according to Bridgewater police Chief John Collyer.

"The image was being shared, usually with a boyfriend, and that was with consent," Collyer said.

"The issue becomes when it's shared beyond that point and that's the allegation that these images were going beyond what the young women had agreed to."

The investigation began after the principal of Bridgewater Junior Senior High School contacted police in May 2015. Several students were suspended at the time over the images.

Help from FBI

But Collyer said since all the girls were under the age of 18, even that first image was child porn. Collyer said the investigation took so long because his officers had to get help from the RCMP and the FBI.

RCMP experts went through the electronic devices the boys allegedly used. The FBI served a warrant on Dropbox, the file-sharing service the group was allegedly using to share the images with one another.

"Once it goes on the internet you really don't have any control over where it's going to end up and that is for some people very devastating," Collyer said.

"It is a conversation that we need to have with our young people."

The six accused are due in Bridgewater court next month to answer to the charges.