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Six Tips to Help Your Loved Ones Safely Use the Internet

The recent arrest of ten men involved in child pornography in Berks County should be a warning for adults and children alike. For parents of young kids such news can be especially frightening.

But minors are not only victims online. Sometimes minors can be perpetrators as well. Sharing photos of oneself or others, known as sexting, is now a misdemeanor offense for those under 18 years old in Pennsylvania. And a minor involved in sex crimes can still be charged with a felony and required to register as a sex offender under PA’s Megan’s Law.

The internet is still new to many adults. They may sometimes be swept up in charges of online pornography for innocently downloading images that they thought were legal, images downloaded by others, or even for taking pictures of their own kids. The consequences of being charged with a sexual offense can be devastating.

You can minimize the risk of you or a loved one being charged with an internet sex crime by following these tips:

  1. Talk to your children about internet safety.
  2. Do not share personal or family photos showing unclothed minors.
  3. Install a filter on your computer to keep out unwanted files or images and keep your software up to date.
  4. If you come across a website containing suspected illegal child pornography, immediately report it to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) CyberTipline® at www.cybertipline.com and the PA Attorney General’s office at https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/contactus/sexcybercrimeform.aspx.
  5. Remember that not everything people say about themselves online is true. People can easily misrepresent themselves online.
  6. Never respond to messages that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening, or make you feel uncomfortable.

Unlike many other crimes, being charged with a sex crime is almost as serious as actually being convicted. If you or a loved one needs help with this issue, be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

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