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Don’t take or send nude or sexually suggestive photos of yourself or anyone else. If you keep them on your phone or computer you could best sexting charged with possession. Teens have been convicted for child porn distribution for emailing sexually explicit photos to each other.

Sometimes it’s impulsive behavior, flirting, or even blackmail. It’s always a bad idea. Express how you feel in a conversational, non-confrontational way. A two-way dialog can go a long way toward helping your kids understand how to minimize legal, social and reputation risks. Stay alert when using digital media.

People aren’t always who they seem to be, even in real life, and sometimes they change and do mean things. Critical thinking about what we upload as well as download is the best protection. If your children have sent any nude pictures of themselves, make sure they stop immediately. Explain that they’re at risk of being charged with producing and distributing child pornography. If they’ve received a nude photo, make sure they haven’t sent it to anyone else.

Either way, the next most important thing is to have a good talk. Stay calm, be supportive and learn as much as you can about the situation. Consider talking with other teens and parents involved, based on what you’ve learned. That’s why it’s usually good to talk to the kids and their parents first. If malice or criminal intent is involved, you may want to consult a lawyer, the police, or other experts on the law in your jurisdiction, but be aware of the possibility that child-pornography charges could be filed against anyone involved. Second: Talk to a parent or trusted adult.

Tell them the full story so they know how to support you. If the picture is from a friend or someone you know, then someone needs to talk to that friend so he or she knows sexting is against the law. You’re actually doing the friend a big favor because of the serious trouble that can happen if the police get involved. If the photos keep coming, you and a parent might have to speak with your friend’s parents, school authorities or the police. These tips were written in April 2009, after several reported cases of teens being prosecuted for taking, distributing and possessing pictures of themselves or friends.