A father has reported his son to police after finding a photograph of a naked, sleeping toddler on the teenager's phone.

Paul Spensberger reported his 17-year-old son Andrew to authorities in their hometown of O'Fallon, Missouri, after finding the photographs on his phone on December 30.

The two images were of a 2-year-old relative of Andrew's girlfriend and were taken at close range. The little girl was sleeping when she was photographed. Paul found them after confiscating his son's phone as punishment for other bad behaviour.

He told DailyMail.com on Tuesday that he was "disgusted" by the images and felt he had no other option than to contact police in the hope that it would finally scare his son, who suffers behavioural problems and is often in trouble for theft, into changing his ways.

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When questioned by his father, Andrew, who works at KFC, told him he took the photographs with the intention of selling them to a high school classmate who he suspected was a paedophile.

He said he hoped to get $350 for the photographs and that he needed the money because he owed it to others.

But Paul contacted police and his son was arrested on felony child pornography charges.

He remains in county jail on a $10,000 bond, which his father, who runs his own construction business, refuses to pay.

"He feels like s***. He feels remorse and he is scared, he's facing time in prison. I could go and get him but he needs to learn," Paul told DailyMail.com.

Paul Spensberger reported his 17-year-old son Andrew to police after finding two photographs of a naked two-year-old girl on the teenager's phone after confiscating it. Photo / Facebook
Paul Spensberger reported his 17-year-old son Andrew to police after finding two photographs of a naked two-year-old girl on the teenager's phone after confiscating it. Photo / Facebook

He admitted that he was torn about whether or not to report his son but felt he had no choice because the phone the photographs were stored on is registered to his brother's name.

"I don't know if I would do the same thing again now.

"I don't know what exactly I was expecting," the boy's father said, adding: "It's difficult."

He said he believed his son's story that he planned to sell the photographs and not use them himself for any kind of personal gratification.

According to his father, the teen attends a special needs school where there are "twisted" students with an appetite for child porn.

"Andrew is a thief but he is not sexual like that."

"He was in a bind [for money] and I have no doubt there are kids at his school that would buy s*** like that."

His father said that while his son was not a predator, he wanted 'everyone to know' about what happened in the hope that it will shame him into better behavior. Photo / Facebook
His father said that while his son was not a predator, he wanted 'everyone to know' about what happened in the hope that it will shame him into better behavior. Photo / Facebook

Paul has been in contact with the photographed child's family and says they have forgiven his son.

He, on the other hand, is torn between teaching his troubled son a lesson and seeing him face up to seven years in prison.

Stopping short of advising other parents to do the same as he did if they found similar photographs on their children's phones, Paul said: "It's disgusting, it's unethical and it should never happen."

Andrew was arrested on a Class D felony charge of child pornography possession.

If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison. The teenager remains behind bars in county jail and is awaiting his next court date.

His father has not yet decided whether or not he will hire him a lawyer but said he has consulted with several.

He said his mother, from whom he is separated, is scared he may be attacked in prison because of the nature of the charge he faces.