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Social media age brings uptick in child porn cases

Feeney says if a child doesn’t head the advice and illicit images are shared it could lead to sextortion – when a perpetrator uses an image as leverage. (Louis Finley/KTVO)

Having nude images of an underage child spread across the internet, might be a parent’s worst nightmare.

In the age of social media, this nightmare is becoming more of a reality.

"I think it's something more common with the kids, and something that's under reported with the kids as well," said Detective Steve Feeney.

Feeney goes to schools around northeast Missouri warning students of the dangers.

"You may get a few [students] that get it, a few [students] to understand it, a few that aren't paying attention that don't catch it, and you may just get some people that just think they know better and are going to continue to do what they're going to do," Feeney said.

Feeney says if a child doesn’t head the advice and illicit images are shared, some leading to sextortion – when a perpetrator uses an image as leverage – here’s what parents should do.

"If it’s posted on social media let [the platform] know," Feeney said.

Sites will block the image and take it down. Next, Feeney says to contact the authorities.

"We can try to take it down from websites, but if individual people have it, it's harder for us to do that," Feeney said.

The Cyber Crimes Department is able to track the image, seeing who's downloaded the file.

Most importantly, it's critical for children to be upfront with parents when confronted with these adult situations

"We're going to be there to help them and not judge them," Feeney said.

Feeney advises parents to have conversations about social media habits, particularly in the case of sextortion, when a child's image is used as leverage by the perpetrator.

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