WJTV News Channel 12 - Fighting Child Porn

Fighting Child Porn

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STATEWIDE -

"Studies have shown that 20-percent of teenagers have seen a nude photograph of one of their classmates," recites the Mississippi Attorney General.

Jim Hood is cracking down on sexting, the sending of provocative messages and pictures via the internet or text messaging.

"We want them to understand it's a crime," expresses Hood.

According to state law, "No person shall, by any means including computer, knowingly send [...] or receive any photograph [...] video tape or other visual depiction of an actual child engaging in sexually explicit conduct."

Hood says even teens under the age of 18-years-old who send nude pictures of themselves are committing a felony.

"We don't prosecute them for it.  Our hope is to try and educate them.  But, it would be in youth court," explains Hood.

Anyone guilty of child exploitation could face up to 40 years in prison, up to 500-thousand dollars in fines, and have to register as a sex offender.

"This is just a problem we're seeing and it's a problem parents aren't aware of," warns Hood.

Hood urges parents to check their child's phone, the bill and request a copy of their child's text messages.  Then, have a conversation about why it's wrong to engage in sexting. 

Hood tells us illegal downloads of child pornography are decreasing in Mississippi.  He says in January 2009 the state's top downloader of child porn was at 300 images per month.  Today, it's about 50 images.  Hood credits the severe punishments as to why fewer people are committing the crimes.

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