Sending a sexually explicit photo via a cell phone can have serious and long term consequences — but that isn’t stopping teens from doing it, according to new research.
A new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that almost a third of high school students have sent sexually explicit messages using a cell phone. This represents a significant rise compared to previous studies. Out of a diverse panel of nearly 1,000 students, 28 percent reported having sent a “sext” and 31 percent said they had requested one from someone else.
Conventional wisdom says that many of these youngsters simple aren’t aware of the seriousness of their actions. Yet, separate research from psychologists at the University of Utah suggests that the conventional wisdom is wrong.
Published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, the study from the University of Utah found that teens who were aware of the possible legal consequences of sexting — like child porn charges or jail time — were actually more likely to sext. Over 35 percent of the students aware of the possible legal repercussions had sent a sexual image using their cell phone, compared to just 24 percent of teens who were ignorant of the legal risks.
Even the study’s authors are a bit perplexed by the results. Lead author Donald Strassberg hypothesizes that simply understanding that there could be consequences may not be enough to curb teenage behavior, because most young adults believe it will never happen to them. Further, Strassberg suggested that some teens might see sexting as appealing precisely because there is some risk to it, because it is a way to rebel against the culture around them.
Addressing the Legal Repercussions of Teen Sexting
Whatever teens may think, legal charges often do stem from a sexting incident. And, yes, it can happen to them. For the most part, psychological experts agree that legal action isn’t the best way to keep kids from sexting — Strassberg called the possibility of a teenager being put on a sex offender registry for sending a nude picture to her boyfriend “ridiculous.” Yet, prosecutors do not always share such an understanding viewpoint of teen sexual behavior.
If a teenager in your life has been caught sexting, without a strong legal defense, there may be very real legal repercussions that could follow them long into adulthood. Talk to a criminal defense attorney today to find out more about defending your teen from sexting charges.