LOS ANGELES (WANE) — Parents are lagging behind regarding teaching their children important online safety behaviors that can prevent youth sexual exploitation, according to a new study.

The study by Thorn, a nonprofit dedicated to defending children form online sexual abuse, showed fewer than 1 in 3 parents have talked with their children about sharing nude photographs and the risks that come with it.

A previous report from Thorn found that 17% of children ages 9-17 have shared nudes, a 6% increase from 2019.

According to the new study, parents are hesitant to discuss these topics with their children because there are major discrepancies between how often and how early parents believe children are sharing nudes.

“Parents and caregivers are the first line of defense in protecting children from bad actors and other dangers online,” said Julie Cordua, CEO of Thorn. “We study the ways parents currently engage with their kids on these topics to better understand what might be holding these parents back — and what can be created to help parents have more proactive conversations with their children on these topics.”

It is illegal to share naked photos of people under the age of 18, even if the photos are of themselves — content defined as self-generated child sexual abuse material (SG-CSAM).

To promote online safety, Thorn launched a digital resource hub called Thorn for Parents that provides parents with the tools to have earlier, more frequent and judgement-free conversations with kids about digital safety.

“All parents want the best for their kids, and while there are many steps parents can take to protect their children online, the first step is having honest talks with their children about risks and safety without judgement,” Cordua said.