Why Are So Many Teenagers ‘Sexting’ Naughty Photos of Themselves?
Parents of teenagers, if you need something new to worry about, we're here to help: a new study reveals a third of 14- to 19-year-olds have "sexted" nude pictures of themselves to other teens using their cell phones.
The study of almost 1,000 Texas teens found that while they're irritated when they're asked to send those naughty photos, 30 percent of them do it anyway.
To make matters worse, the study also found teen sexters are more likely to report being sexually active, and that for girls in particular, sexting is linked to risky sexual behaviors, like having multiple partners or using drugs or alcohol before sex.
"It appears that sexting is a modern version of 'show me yours and I'll show you mine,' but the commonness of the behavior does not condone its occurrence," said study author Jeff Temple, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
He said that since the lewd photos often depict minors, those who receive them could be prosecuted under child pornography laws, even if the recipients are underaged teens themselves -- but he thinks that's a bad idea.
"Doing so not only unjustly punishes youthful indiscretions, but minimizes the severity and seriousness of true sexual assault against minors," Temple said. "Resources currently used to criminally punish teen sexting could instead be diverted to prevention and education programs focusing on reducing risky sex behaviors among adolescents."