NEW FIGURES reveal that 50 per cent of parents don't know it's illegal for a child to take a nude selfie.

According to a study from the NSPCC, one in two parents don't know the legal consequences of their child taking or sending a nude photo, and two out of five parents fear their children will be involved in 'sexting', but haven't spoken to them about the risks.

The NSPCC definition of 'sexting' is when someone shares sexual, naked or semi-naked images or videos of themselves or others, or sends sexually explicit messages.

Almost all of the 1000 parents interviewed by the NSPCC said they saw sexting as harmful, with more than a quarter saying their main concern was about their child losing control of the image.

Over the last year, the numbers of children counselled by Childline about sexting have risen 15 per cent to almost 1,400. This is around four children every day.

Sharon Copsey, NSPCC regional head of service for South West England, said: “Sharing nude selfies can put young people at risk of bullying by peers or being targeted by adult sex offenders, so it's vital that parents talk to their children and that young people feel empowered to say no to sexting requests.

“We realise that talking about sexting can be an embarrassing or awkward conversation for both parents and children. And although most parents said they would seek help if an indecent image of their child had been shared on the internet, half of them weren’t confident about getting the right support.

“The NSPCC has created a new guide for parents to help them talk to their children about the risks of sexting, what the law says, and what to do if their child has shared a nude image that is being circulated online or among their peers.”

The NSPCC says young people can be involved in sexting in several ways: they may lose control of their own image, receive one of someone else, or share an image of another person.

A young person is breaking the law if they take an explicit photo or video of themselves or a friend, share an explicit image or video of a child, even if it’s shared between children of the same age or possess, download or store an explicit image or video of a child, even if the child gave their permission for it to be created.

However, as of January 2016, if a young person is found creating or sharing images, the police can choose to record that a crime has been committed but can decide that taking formal action isn't in the public interest.

One mum, speaking to the NSPCC, said: “I’ve just found out my daughter has been sent some nude selfies on this instant messaging app. She had been speaking to these people and they started sending her inappropriate images and asked her to send them things.”

The charity has teamed up with O2 to help parents keep their children safe online. They can contact the O2 NSPCC online safety helpline on 0808 800 5002 to get advice on privacy settings or removing indecent images of their children from mobiles and other devices.