Kids as inadvertent child pornographers

To sometimes tragic effect, that is what the usually impulsive, unthinking behavior behind sexting can lead to: child child pornographers. "A growing number of teens are ending up in serious trouble for sending racy photos with their cellphones. Police have investigated more than two dozen teens in at least six states this year for sending nude images of themselves in cellphone text messages, which can bring a charge of distributing child pornography," USATODAY reports. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children told USATODAY that, of the 2,100 children it has identified as victims of online porn, a quarter of them "initially sent the images themselves" – photos that can end up mixed in with adult-produced child-abuse images circulating online (Austrian police just reported breaking up a child porn ring operating in 170 countries, the International Herald Tribune reports). Two teens 15 and 18 were recently charged with soliciting and possessing child porn with the intent to distribute after seeking nude pictures from three other kids, one in elementary school, USATODAY adds. This is why I feel critical thinking – about what they send and upload as much as what they receive and download – is essential to youth online safety going forward. Have your kids either read this item or the full USATODAY piece, and they'll probably think twice about being manipulated or impulsive in this way and may even help a friend avoid being so. [See also "Social media literacy: The new Internet safety," "Teen suicide over sexting," and a number of other NFN items on sexting.]

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