MERIDEN, CT (WFSB) - Child pornography and sexting is on the rise among young people in Meriden, according to police.

Police said on Tuesday that it is seeing more cases of possession and transmission.

They said sexually explicit photos and videos are being created and shared within children's social networks and are often used to bully and harass the victims who are in the videos.

"The Meriden Police Department takes the possession of child pornography, even by a minor, very seriously," police said in a news release. 

Police asked that parents talk to their children about the severity of making such photos and videos.

They pointed out that children who do it set themselves up for embarrassment, bullying, trouble with police and future consequences such as lowering the chances of college admissions and job prospects.

Children who send intimate images can be arrested and charged with a crime, especially if they are explicit files that involve other children, police said.

"I'm not saying it's bad kids taking these pictures. It's impulsive decision, not thinking things through, or a false sense of trust with the person we are sending it to. Maybe it's a not even realizing it's not inappropriate," said Scott Driscoll, of Internet Safety Concept.

He trains police officers on internet and social safety.

"If someone takes a picture or is in a picture and it's child pornography, the age, the age, the body parts, how they are exposed, if that person receives it and they're 18, that's against the law," Driscoll said. 

If an arrest or facing jail time isn't enough, Psychologist Dr. Laura Saunders says sending someone's nude photo around the internet can have severe emotional effects. 

"That is anyone's pictures being sent around, that's really a traumatic experience and life-changing for them. Try to think about what we are doing and how it impacts other people," Dr. Saunders said. " I do think it's important to talk about the consequences of ones behavior. That's how you create foresight and realized how your action impact you and others." 

Experts say parents should talk to child about technology and how they are using it:

  • Set ground rules and consequences, like limiting how long they're on their phone
  • Learn about parental control settings
  • Know who your child is communicating with
  • Discuss the importance of privacy, like not sharing intimate images and video, not even sharing them with friends

Meriden police shared the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's website, which has resources on how to approach children about cyber bullying, smart phones, gaming, social media safety, sexting and other online safety measures. Its website can be found here.

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