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The child pornography laws in Massachusetts are all felonies; they are quite serious, and there are no "lesser" charges (i.e. Incidents of "sexting" in Berkshire County will be taken very seriously, with law enforcement intervention if necessary., to knowingly encourage, cause, coerce, solicit, or entice a person under 18 years of age - male or female - to pose or be shown in a state of nudity (or semi-nudity) for the purpose of photographing them.

Thus, in many circumstances, encouraging a person, even a friend, who is under 18 to take a photo of themselves nude, or of body parts considered sexual in nature, with their cell phone or digital camera, violates this statute., to knowingly send out or disseminate pictures of a person under 18 (1) in a state of nudity (or semi-nudity) or (2) engaged in a sexual act.

A felony conviction may also affect future employment opportunities, such as those offered in law enforcement and other high-security clearance positions.

Even without a criminal conviction, "sexting" may be addressed within the school, and could potentially result in suspension or expulsion.

Trying to decide whether to delve into online dating? There is no doubt that the advances in technology in the last 20 years have changed society and culture.

In a number of jurisdictions, criminal charges have already been brought to address this behavior.": Our youth across the nation, in Massachusetts and right here in Berkshire County are engaging in these risky behaviors which can pose great danger for themselves and others.

School administrators are working to educate their staff about "sexting", and are reviewing school cell phone use policies so they can respond appropriately to the problem.

Parents also need to educate themselves about the problem of "sexting", including the potential consequences of this behavior, and the resources which can help them address the issue with their children.:"Sexting" may violate the laws of the Commonwealth that were established to keep our children safe.

Fluid conversations about personal integrity and the acceptable uses of cell phones, computers and digital devices will help young people resist peer pressure to engage in this behavior. To that end, each school year, the District Attorney's Office has provides trainings for students throughout the county, as well as several school staff trainings, on bullying, cyberbullying and computer and internet safety.

It is important that students, school personnel, and parents all receive information and education on these topics.