According to the report published in the journal Pediatrics by the researchers from the University of New Hampshire, it appears that 2.5% of American kids aged from 10 to 17 years are involved in sexting, and 1% send sexually explicit images that would probably be deemed as illegal, according to child pornography laws. These sexting and images are sent through their mobile telephones or via the Internet.
The definition of sexting makes the prevalence of sexting. If one includes sexually suggestive images, and not just sexually explicit ones, the proportion of children in that age group who are involved rises to 9.6%.
Kimberly J. Mitchell, PhD, and team set out to determine what proportion of youths are involved in the electronic transmission of sexual images, as well as gathering details on children’s involvement and the nature of such images.
Around 1,560 children aged from 10 through 17, were tested on a cross-sectional survey, where all were internet users.
The estimated findings got varied significantly from the type of images or videos that were discussed, and what role the child was undertaking.
The researchers found that:
- 2.5% of those surveyed had created or appeared in nearly nude or nude pictures or videos
- 1% of those surveyed had appeared in or were involved in creating pictures that showed their genitals, naked breasts, and/or their bottoms
- 7.1% had received nearly nude or nude pictures of others
- 5.9% said they had received sexually explicit images
- A very small number of those receiving sexually explicit images said they were disturbed by them.
It was further added by the authors that most children who have taken part in sexually explicit images have done so either:
- As a prank
- While they were in an intimate relationship
- While under the influence of alcohol or a drug (31%)
Very few of the images were forwarded on to other people, or posted online. Distributing sexually explicit images is a public offence. The authors emphasize that children and young people must be told about this.
In an abstract in the journal, the authors wrote:
“The rate of youth exposure to sexting highlights a need to provide them with information about legal consequences of sexting and advice about what to do if they receive a sexting image. However, the data suggest that appearing in, creating, or receiving sexual images is far from being a normative behavior for youth.”
Below are some highlighted results from their study:
- 3,477 cases of sexual images produced by youths were dealt with during 2008-2009
- In 66% of these cases there were “aggravating circumstances”, as well as the distribution of sexually explicit images (in 36% an adult was involved, and in 31% a minor was involved in abusive, malicious or non-consensual behavior)
- 36% of the cases with aggravating circumstances in which only minors were involved resulted in an arrest
- 62% of the cases in which an adult was involved resulted in an arrest
- In 63% of cases, the pictures were sent only by mobile phone, and were never posted on the internet
- 18% of “experimental” cases resulted in an arrest. This means, there were no aggravating elements and only minors were involved.
- In extremely rare cases, sex offender registration was applied.
The authors concluded in an Abstract in the journal:
“Many of the youth sexting cases that come to the attention of police include aggravating circumstances that raise concerns about health and risky sexual behavior, although some cases were relatively benign. Overall, arrest is not typical in cases with no adults involved.”