September 17, 2012
Teens Are Still Sexting, And At Alarming Rates
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A new survey has shown just how outrageous "sexting" has gotten, claiming that one out of every seven Los Angeles high schoolers use their smartphone to send out the sexually-explicit text messages.Researchers from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles say teenagers in Los Angeles were seven times more likely to be sexually active if they had admitted to sexting than those who had never engaged in the activity.
The researchers reported in the journal Pediatrics that out of the 75 percent of students who said they owned a cell phone, 15 percent said they had used it to send a "sexually explicit message or photo." Over half of the respondents said they at least knew someone who had sexted before.
Not only were students seven times more likely to have had sex if they engaged in sexting behavior, but they were also on an increasing trend towards having unprotected sex.
"Some adolescents perceive that sexting is a safer substitute to real life sexual activity, but others suggest that sexting may be viewed as a future expectation for engaging in sexual intercourse," the researchers wrote.
The authors said that the dangers to youth extend beyond sexual risk behaviors, and that sexting poses new and different concerns compared with other sexually explicit material.
Some of the other concerns include the ease of creation and distribution of sexts, the ability for children under the age of consent to create and distribute them, and potential child pornography charges that can be levied against sextets.
The researchers suggested that clinics, schools and cell phone based programs be developed to explain the risks associated with sexting to teens. These resources should also be made available to parents about the consequences of their child sexting, according to the authors.
They suggest parents and teachers use the latest media coverage, such as that of the published topless photos of Prince William's wife Kate Middleton, to help break the ice and relate a bit more to teens.
Recently, an Italian gossip magazine published a 26-page spread of topless photos of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, despite legal action taken in France against the French magazine Closer that originally published the images.
The images include Kate reportedly sunbathing on the terrace of a secluded chateau in the south of France nude before beginning a tour of the Far East and South Pacific.
Highlighting events like this in the media to teenagers may be one way to help promote the effects of photos getting into the wrong hands. Teens who sext could have their images they published wind up online.