A new study published by the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine indicates that sexting continues to be a significant problem. Published online July 02, 2012, the study results reveal that twenty-eight percent of the sample reported having sent a naked picture of themselves through text or e-mail (sext), and 31% reported having asked someone for a sext. More than half (57%) had been asked to send a sext, with most being bothered by having been asked. Adolescents who engaged in sexting behaviors were more likely to have begun dating and to have had sex than those who did not sext. And for girls, sexting was also associated with risky sexual behaviors.
The results indicate that teen sexting is prevalent and offers some insight into teens’ sexual behaviors. The researchers conclude that health care providers should consider screening for sexting behaviors to provide age-specific education about the potential consequences of sexting and as a mechanism for discussing sexual behaviors.
In Douglas County, investigators handled 108 sexting cases since January of 2011. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department reported it handled 20 cases during the same time period. Other metro-area counties do not keep track of sexting cases, which often begin as serious sex crimes.
According to district attorney offices in Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties, most sexting cases are referred to juvenile diversion programs that teens agree to attend to avoid prosecution.
For more information on sexting and the potential consequences, see Consequences of Sexting Should Not be Ignored.