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Teen "sexting" is prevalent

The study background suggests pediatricians, policy makers, schools and parents have insufficient information about the nature and importance of teen sexting because there is not enough empirical data.

Researchers assessed teen sexting with four questions: have they ever sent naked pictures of themselves through text or email, have they ever asked someone to send them a naked picture, have they been asked to send naked pictures of themselves to someone, and, if so, how bothered were they by it. 

"Specifically, more than one in four adolescents have sent a nude picture of themselves through electronic means, about half have been asked to send a nude picture, and about a third have asked for a nude picture to be sent to them." 

Of those receiving such a picture, over 25 percent indicated that they had forwarded it to others. "Boys were more likely to ask and girls more likely to have been asked for a sext," the authors note. In addition, of those who had sent a sexually explicit picture, over a third had done so despite believing that there could be serious legal and other consequences if they got caught.

"Given its prevalence and link to sexual behavior, pediatricians and other tween-focused and teen-focused health care providers may consider screening for sexting behaviors. Asking about sexting could provide insight into whether a teen is likely engaging in other sexual behaviors (for boys and girls) or risky sexual behaviors (for girls)," the authors comment.

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Written by: Lisa Callaham
Posted: Oct 31, 2012 by Lisa Callaham

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