Navigation Links
Teen 'Sexting' Might Be Less Common Than Feared

By Lisa Esposito
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Concerns over teenage "sexting" -- sending suggestive or explicit images by cellphone or online -- might be overblown, new research finds.

Only a small minority of children reports transmitting pornographic pictures, and legal consequences are the exception, rather than the rule, researchers say.

In the first of two studies from the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center, some 1,500 young Internet users, aged 10 to 17, responded to phone survey questions about their experiences sending or receiving sexual images within the last year.

"I think our findings are reassuring to an extent," said lead author Kimberly Mitchell, a research associate professor of psychology. "We saw a variety of seriousness. Some kids are just taking pictures and sending them to their boyfriends. Aggravated sexting, by comparison, includes drugs, alcohol, coercion."

When asked whether they had either appeared in or created nude or nearly nude images, or received them, 149 students (9.6 percent) said yes. Of those, 110 (7.1 percent) had received nude or semi-nude images, and 5.9 percent had received sexually explicit images, meaning pictures of bared breasts, genitals or bottoms, which might potentially violate child pornography laws.

Thirty-nine kids (2.5 percent) said they appeared in or created images that involved semi-nudity or near-nudity. Of these, 1.3 percent were also involved with sexually explicit images. In most cases, the children took the pictures of themselves.

"The numbers are dependent on the type of questions involved," Mitchell said. "What was the activity in the image? We're seeing kids in bathing suits, and some kids we surveyed considered that as 'nude' or 'nearly nude.' As parents, you might be concerned. Police are going to be more concerned about sexually explicit images."

Older teens were more likely to engage in sexting, the survey found. Girls accounted for 61 percent of kids appearing in or creating nude or semi-nude images, and 72 percent of them were 16 or 17 years old. None was younger than 13. Among recipients only, 56 percent were girls, and more than half of them 16 or 17, the investigators found.

Fears that the images will go global may be unfounded. "A big concern is that online images will be picked up by child pornography offenders," Mitchell said. "But most images are contained in cellphones. Those can still get out but not in the majority. We actually found very few -- 12 percent total -- distributed beyond the intended recipient."

One in five kids who appeared in or created images reported being very upset, embarrassed or afraid, Mitchell said, as did one in four recipients.

Shari Kessel Schneider, who led a study on sexting and depression among Boston-area youth that was reported on last month by HealthDay, found a higher prevalence of sexting. However, she said it's difficult to compare studies with such different populations and definitions.

"There is a wide range of involvement encompassed within sexting behavior that may have negative social or psychological consequences for youth even if it does not meet the definition of child pornography," said Kessel Schneider of the Education Development Center in Newton, Mass.

She called the new work an important national study, but noted "because this survey was done via telephone and included a brief parent component, there is the possibility that sexting was underreported by youth who may have been concerned that their parents would find out about their involvement."

In the second study, also published in the January 2012 issue of Pediatrics and led by senior researcher Janis Wolak, U.S. law enforcement agencies provided details on 675 juvenile sexting cases from 2008 and 2009.

Aggravating factors such as alcohol and drug use helped fuel sexting. In most cases in the police study, no juvenile arrests resulted. However, when images were used for blackmail or harassment, 36 percent of teens were arrested. The most common aggravating factor was distributing images online without permission. Adult involvement also made arrest -- in 62 percent of cases -- more likely.

Teens using sexting within a romantic relationship, as a way of flirting or to get attention from peers can still get into trouble, with an 18 percent arrest rate for "non-aggravated, youth-only" sexting.

For the most part, law enforcement officials take age and intent into account. The 10-year-old boy who sent a girl a cellphone picture of his penis to "gross her out" wasn't arrested. As for sex offender registries, the very few teens subjected had generally committed other serious offenses such as sexual assault, the study found.

Both researchers agree that kids need to better understand the implications of sexting.

"Even though numbers are low, I think it's something we need to educate youth about and tell them about the potential consequences," Mitchell said.

More information

The Cyberbullying Research Center has more about legal issues in sexting.

SOURCES: Kimberly Mitchell, Ph.D., research associate professor, psychology, University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center, Durham, N.H.; Shari Kessel Schneider, M.S.P.H., senior research associate, Education Development Center, Newton, Mass.; January 2012, Pediatrics

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Concerns about teen sexting overblown, according to new UNH research
2. Teen Sexting Common and Linked to Psychological Woes
3. Sexting driven by peer pressure
4. Survey Suggests Sexting Rampant in College
5. Sexting Common for Those Who Cheat: Study
6. Let your fingers do the talking: Sexting and infidelity in cyberspace
7. Prozac Might Ease Repetitive Behaviors in Some Adults With Autism
8. Lower antioxidant level might explain higher skin-cancer rate in males
9. Non-Fried Fish Might Help Ward Off Alzheimers: Study
10. New Software Might Help Predict Difficult Childbirth
11. Gene Shortage Might Lead to Shorter Height, Study Says
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Teen 'Sexting' Might Be Less Common Than Feared
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... patient payment industry today announced its strategic partnership with Connance, a healthcare ... , The two companies’ proven, proprietary technology combine to provide health systems, ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... Pixel Film Studios Released ProSlice Levels, a ... can give their videos a whole new perspective by using the title layers ... Film Studios. , ProSlice Levels contains over 30 Different presets to choose from. ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... TX (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... Austin ... of the American College of Mohs Surgery and to Dr. Russell Peckham for medical ... and highly effective treatment for skin cancer. The selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Dr. ... from injury. Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic procedures as a method for treating ... one of the first doctors to perform the treatment. Orthobiologics are substances that ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, 2016 ... dangers associated with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery ... are suffering with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... Mass. , June 24, 2016   Pulmatrix, ... pharmaceutical company developing innovative inhaled drugs, announced today that ... Russell Investments reconstituted its comprehensive set of ... "This is an important milestone for Pulmatrix," ... will increase shareholder awareness of our progress in developing ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... HILLS, Calif. , June 23, 2016 Any ... the many challenges of the current process. Many of them ... because of the technical difficulties and high laboratory costs involved. ... have to offer it at such a high cost that ... afford it. Dr. Parsa Zadeh , founder ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... CAPR ), a biotechnology company focused on ... today announced that patient enrollment in its ongoing ... Duchenne) has exceeded 50% of its 24-patient target. ... in the third quarter of 2016, and to ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: