Sexting: When people take and send sexually revealing pictures of themselves or send sexually explicit messages via the Internet or text messages.
48% of teens are receiving sexually explicit texts and emails.
Percent of teens who have sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves:
• 20% of teens overall
• 22% of teen girls
• 18% of teen boys
• 11% of young teen girls between the ages 13-16
Percent of teens that sent sexually suggestive messages via text, email or instant messaging:
• 39% of all teens
• 37% of teen girls
• 40% of teen boys
• 71% of teen girls and 67% of teen boys who have sent or posted sexually suggestive content say they have sent/posted this content to a boyfriend/girlfriend.
• 21% of teen girls and 39% of teen boys say they have sent such content to someone they wanted to date or hook up with.
• 15% of teens who have sent or posted nude/semi-nude images of themselves say they have done so to someone they only knew online.
• 75% of teens say sending sexually suggestive content “can have serious negative consequences.
• 39% of teens have sent or posted sexually suggestive emails or text messages
• 36% of teen girls and 39% of teen boys say it is common for nude or semi-nude photos to get shared with people other than the intended recipient.
• 25% of teen girls and 33% of teen boys say they have had nude or semi-nude images—originally meant for someone else—shared with them.
• 22% of teens say they are personally more forward and aggressive using sexually suggestive words and images than they are in “real life.”
• 38% of teens say exchanging sexually suggestive content makes dating or hooking up with others more likely.
• 29% of teens believe those exchanging sexually suggestive content are “expected” to date or hook up.
• 51% of teen girls say pressure from a guy is a reason girls send sexy messages or images; only 18% of teen boys cited pressure from female counterparts as a reason.
• 23% of teen girls and 24% of teen boys say they were pressured by friends to send or post sexual content.
• 66% of teen girls and 60% of teen boys say they did so to be “fun or flirtatious”— their most common reason for sending sexy content.
• 44% of both teen girls and teen boys say they sent sexually suggestive messages or images in response to such content they received.
• 12% of teen girls felt “pressured” to send sexually suggestive messages or images.
• 15% of teens ages 12-17 with cell or smart phones say they have received sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images of someone they know via text messaging on their cell phone.
• One in five teens have engaged in sexting – sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photos through text message or email – and over a third know of a friend who has sent or received these kinds of messages.
• Most sext senders say these messages are most commonly sent to boyfriends/girlfriends because it’s asked of them or to have fun.
• One in 10 sext senders say they have sent these messages to people they don’t even know.
Not all teens share nudes, however, those that do are most likely vulnerable. More than 1 in 5 of those with an eating disorder and more than 1 in 4 of those in care are sharing these images.
Sending seductive pictures or messages is problematic enough, but the real challenge comes when this inappropriate content is shared broadly. When revealing photos are made public, the subject of them almost always ends up feeling humiliated. Furthermore, sending sexual images to minors is against the law, and some states have begun prosecuting children for child pornography or felony obscenity.
It is extremely important for everyone – especially minors – to become aware of the penalties that can come from being convicted or adjudicated of sexting. If a minor who is not a child is found guilty of the offense of sexting, penalties range from a fine (not to exceed $500) to up to one year in jail. If an individual is convicted of the felony offense of possession or promotion of child pornography, penalties range from 2 to 20 years in prison.
- Don’t wait for an incident to happen before you talk with your child about the consequences of sexting.
- Remind teens that once an image is sent, it can never be retrieved, and they lose control of it. Ask them how they would feel if their teachers, parents, or even the entire school saw the picture.
- Talk about pressures to send revealing photos. Let teens know that you understand how they can be pushed or dared into sending something. Tell them that no matter how strong the social pressure to sext, the potential social humiliation can be hundreds of times worse.
- Teach students that the buck stops with them. If someone sends them a photo, they should delete it immediately. It is better to be part of the solution than the problem. Besides, if they do send it on, they’re distributing pornography — and that’s against the law.