ArticlePDF Available


In recent years, the emergence of the phenomenon of sexting has generated significant media and social concern. The practice of sexting has proven to be problematic, having led to serious psychological and legal consequences, particularly in the case of teenagers, highlighting the urgent need to develop adequate prevention strategies. Moreover, by sending sexting messages, images or videos, children (and adults) can inadvertently and irreversibly cross a risk threshold that exposes them to different types of victimization (blackmail, revenge or simply highly damaging indiscretions). Furthermore, sexting may constitute the beginning of sexual crimes initiated via ICTs (Wolak et al. 2004).
Sexting: Research Criteria of a Globalized Social Phenomenon
Jose R. Agustina Esperanza L. Go
Published online: 19 October 2012
Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012
We read with great interest the study on sexting by high school
students reported by Strassberg, McKinnon, Sustaita, and Rullo
(2012). They accurately highlighted methodological limitations
of previous studies, some of them published in the popular press.
Sexting definitional problems were also pointed out. We agree
that most studies used vague definitional terms and heteroge-
neous descriptions. As noted by Lounsbury, Mitchell, and
Finkelhor (2011), reporting very different sexting rates can lead
to public misperception. Representativeness of samples also
seems doubtful. Table 1summarizes a review of main research
findings, including our own unpublished data.
We conducted a survey among university students, using a
self-administered questionnaire. We mostly replicated the online
questionnaire designed for the study on sexting conducted by the
National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
(2008). However, in our study, participants were present at the
time of the survey. Percentages reported for our sample were
higher than those previously described. This finding could be
related to an older age of the sample (M, 20.4 years, SD =3.0).
Strassberg et al. (2012) emphasized that age effect and parents’
next-room presence during the interview may lead to an under-
estimation of the overall prevalence of sexting among minors.
Therefore, we would like to vindicate the benefits of direct sur-
veys of young adults, as asking adults retrospectively may
diminish reluctance to answer about their teen-experiences
(assuming that there would be other biases).
Sexting is a social phenomenon; thus, cross-cultural differ-
ences may occur. Spanish media do not pay substantial attention
to this phenomenon; yet, public policies are limited and scientific
information in this area comes almost entirely from the U.S.
Mitchell, Wolak, and Finkelhor (2007) reported a higher per-
centage of unwanted exposure to pornography among Hispanic
participants and Ferguson (2012) studied young Hispanic women,
reporting similar percentages to the results of previous studies
with non-Hispanic samples. If country-specific features apply for
our situation, the interpretations of epidemiological data from
outside our borders may create inaccurate impressions that can be
misleading and thus may hinder public health and educational
interventions. Nevertheless, our results were similar or somewhat
higher to those internationally reported, notwithstanding the lack
of awareness of public opinion of this silent problem.
Despitesampledifferencesamong studies, our results and
literature review point to a globalized presence of sexting.
Potentially serious legal and psychological consequences for
teens have been reported (Strassberg et al., 2012) and develop-
mentally appropriate prevention strategies that target youths
directly are needed (World Health Organization, 2011). The
World Health Organization (2011) states that ‘‘the most polar-
izing public health threat presented by the Internet may be as a
means to intentionally or unwittingly jeopardize the safety of
children and adolescents.’ However, less than a quarter of
responding countries legally require the use of safety tools and
security technologies in public Internet facilities used by children
(the United States being the most progressive region in imple-
menting these measures).
In an increasing digitalized world, child usage of new tech-
nologies presents both enormous possibilities and challenges.
Current scientific data, such as reported by Strassberg et al.
(2012), point to the importance of countries and international
J. R. Agustina E. L. Go
Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, Universitat
Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
E. L. Go
Servei de Responsabilitat Professional, Collegi de Metges de
Barcelona, Passeig de la Bonanova, 47, 08017 Barcelona, Spain
E. L. Go
`ria de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Arch Sex Behav (2012) 41:1325–1328
DOI 10.1007/s10508-012-0038-0
Table 1 Sexting studies
Study Phenomenon studied Sample Results
Mitchell, Wolak, and
Finkelhor (2007)
Unwanted exposure to pornography:‘‘find
yourself in a web site that showed
pictures of naked people or of people
having sex when you did not want to be
in that kind of site’’or‘an e-mail or
instant message or a link in a message
that showed you actual pictures of
naked people or people having sex that
you did not want’
1500 internet users, ages 10–17 Year 2000.
9 % ages 10–12, 28 %ages 13–15, and
33 % ages 16–17.
23 % girls and 27% boys
Year 2005.
19 % ages 10–12, 35 % ages 13–15, and
44 % ages 16–17.
31 % girls and 37% boys
National Campaign to
Prevent Teen and
Unplanned Pregnancy
‘sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude
pictures or video of themselves’
653 teens, ages 13–19; 627 adults,
ages 20–26
20 % of teens (18% of boys and 22% of
girls) had sent or posted nude or semi-
nude pictures or videos of themselves
on the Internet or through a cell phone
Thomas (2009) ‘sending sexually suggestive text
messages or emails with nude or nearly-
nude photos’
655 teens, ages 13–18 19 % had engaged in sexting; 12 % of teen
girls and 6 % of teen boys had sent a
‘‘se x t .’’
Sext senders were more likely to be girls
(65 % vs. 35 % boys) and older teens ages
16–18 (61 % vs. 39 % ages 13–15).
Nearly all sext senders had also received a
3 % forwarded a sext
Associated Press-MTV
‘sending or forwarding nude, sexually
suggestive, or explicit pics on your cell
or online’
1,247 young people 14–24 33 % ages 18–24.
24 %ages 14–17.
29 % had received messages with ‘‘sexual
words or images’’by cell phone or on the
10 % shared a naked image of themselves.
Females were more likely to produce the
images (13 % vs. 9% of males).
Males were more likely to receive the
images (14 % vs. 9% of females).
17 % forwarded the sext
Phippen (2009) ‘the sharing of explicit images
electronically’’and ‘‘any of your friends
shared intimate pictures/videos with a
boyfriend or girlfriend’
535 students ages 13–18 40 % of students knew friends who had
Lenhart (2009) [sent or received]‘sexually suggestive
nude or nearly nude photo or
videousing your cell phone’
800 teens, ages 12–17 4 % had sent such images and 15 %
received them.
8 % of 17-year-olds had sent such images
and 30 % had received them.
4 % of 12-year-olds had sent such images
and 4 % had received them
Ferguson (2011) ‘sending or receiving erotic or nude
207 young Hispanic women, ages
20.5 % reported sending sexts of
themselves to others and 34.5 %
receiving them
1326 Arch Sex Behav (2012) 41:1325–1328
organizations to work in collaboration in order to minimize
potential risks.
Agustina,J., & Go
´n, E. L. (2012). Sexting by Spanish university
Associated Press-MTV. (2009). Digital abuse survey. Knowledge
networks. Retrieved from
Ferguson, C. J. (2011). Sexting behaviors among young Hispanic
women: Incidence and association with other high-risk sexual
behaviors. Psychiatric Quarterly, 82, 239–243.
Lenhart, A. (2009, December 15). Teens and sexting. Retrieved from*/media//Files/Reports/2009/PIP_
Table 1 continued
Study Phenomenon studied Sample Results
´rez, Fuente, Garcı
Guijarro, and Blas
‘receiving photos or videos of their peers
in provocative or inappropriate poses’’
or‘pictures or videos have been taken
of them in provocative or inappropriate
322 interviews with minors, ages
8.1 % received photos or videos of their
peers in provocative or inappropriate
4 % acknowledged that pictures or videos
had been taken of them in provocative or
inappropriate poses.
(6.1 % among adolescents aged 15–16).
14.3 % of children know a friend who has
taken erotic or daring photos, and 11.5 %
knows a peer who has received such
Wolak, Finkelhor, and
Mitchell (2012)
‘sexual images created by minors (age 17
or younger) that were or could have
been child pornography under relevant
statutes according to respondents.’
675 interviews with investigators
about sexting cases handled by
3477 cases.
64 % did not involve adults. 31 % were
‘youth-only’’cases but aggravated
because youth behaved in a non-
consensual, malicious, exploitative, or
criminal way
Mitchell, Finkelhor,
Jones, and Wolak
Appear in or create or receive ‘‘nude or
nearly nude pictures or videos’’ or
‘sexually explicit images’’
1560 youth internet users, ages 10
through 17
2.5 % appeared in or created nude or
nearly nude pictures or videos (61 %
were girls, 72 % were ages 16–17).
7.1 % received nude or nearly nude
pictures or videos (56 % were girls, 55 %
were ages 16–17).
1 % appeared in or created and 5.9 %
received sexually explicit images
Strassberg, McKinnon,
´ta, and Rullo
Sending and receiving sexually explicit
cell phone pictures (i.e., sexting),
defined as ‘‘pictures depicting the
genitals or buttocks for both sexes and/
or the breasts for females.’’
606 high school students 18.3 % of males and 17.3 % of females had
sent a sext of themselves.
49.7 % of males and 30.9 % of females had
received a sext.
27 % of males and 21.4% of females
forwarded the picture
Agustina and Go
Sending, posting, receiving, or sharing a
‘sexually suggestive message to
someone using electronic media’’ or
‘involving a self-nude or semi-nude
149 young university students,
ages 18–29 (46.3 % ages
18–19 years, 39.6 % ages
20–22 years, and 14.1 % ages
69.4 % had received a sexually suggestive
message to someone, 67.3 % had sent it
(69.6 % and 66.6% respectively, ages
(72.3 % and 74.5 % of males, respectively
vs. 68.3 % and 64.4% of females,
39.7 % had received self-nude or semi-
nude pictures/videos, 10.3 %
acknowledged to have sent it.
(38.2 % and 14.7% ages 18–19).
(40.4 % and 4.2% of males, respectively
vs. 40 % and 14% of females,
Arch Sex Behav (2012) 41:1325–1328 1327
Lounsbury, K., Mitchell, K. J., & Finkelhor, D. (2011, April). The true
prevalence of ‘‘sexting’’. Retrieved from
Mitchell, K. J., Finkelhor, D., Jones, L. M., & Wolak, J. (2012).
Prevalence and characteristics of youth sexting: A national study.
Pediatrics, 129, 13–20.
Mitchell, K. J., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2007). Trends in youth
reports of sexual solicitations, harassment and unwanted exposure
to pornography on the Internet. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40,
National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy & (2008). Sex and tech: Results from a survey of
teens and young adults. Retrieved from http://www.thenational
´rez, P., Fuente, S., Garcı
´a, L., Guijarro, J. & Blas, M. E. (2010, April).
Study on safety and privacy in the use of mobile services by
Spanish minors. Retrieved from
Phippen, A. (2009). Sharing personal images and videos among young
people. Retrieved from
Strassberg, D. S., McKinnon, R. K., Sustaı
´ta, M. A., & Rullo, J. (2012).
Sexting by high school students: An exploratory and descriptive
study. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-012-
Thomas, K. (2009, May). Teen online & wireless safety survey:
Cyberbullying, sexting, and parental controls. Retrieved from
Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., & Mitchell, K. J. (2012). How often are teens
arrested for sexting? Data from a national sample of police cases.
Pediatrics, 129, 4–12.
World Health Organization. (2011). Safety and security on the Internet.
Retrieved from
1328 Arch Sex Behav (2012) 41:1325–1328
... Sexting can be defined as the act of creating, sending and/or forwarding nude or sexually explicit images or videos through electronic devices [1][2][3]. This social phenomenon has been getting increased media and scientific attention in the past few years, as it has been linked to risky sexual behaviors, negative consequences, poorer mental health and other forms of cybervictimization for those who engage in the behavior [4][5][6][7][8]. Scientific literature keeps on growing, nevertheless, psychopathology correlates of victimization as a result of non-consensual dissemination have not been sufficiently explored. ...
... On the other hand, aggravated sexting behaviors encompass all types of sexting that may involve criminal or abusive elements beyond the creation, sending or possession of self-produced sexual content [1]. Regardless of the self-generated sexual content's origin (voluntary-experimental sexting, or coerced-aggravated sexting), sending self-generated sexual pictures and/or videos can become a risk for the sender [5]. Although voluntary and consensual sexting does not always materialize as a risk for being sexually victimized, once the sender shares the sexual photos or videos, the images can be used by the receiver in many different ways, some of which can be victimizing for the original sender. ...
... In that sense, the receiver can then distribute the sexual content without the person's consent, threaten the person to distribute them in exchange for money or economic retribution or threaten them in exchange for more sexual content. Engaging in sexting behaviors can become a threshold for other forms of online sexual victimization such as sexting coercion, the non-consensual dissemination of sexual content, revenge porn or sextortion [5,9]. ...
Full-text available
Sexting is generally known as creating, sending and/or forwarding of sexual content using electronic devices. When such content is non-consensually disseminated, it becomes a criminally relevant behavior. To date, very few empirical studies have examined the prevalence of non-consensual dissemination of sexting, and none of them have analyzed the relationship with psychopathology and further victimization outcomes. Therefore, the aims of this study were (1) to examine the prevalence of non-consensual dissemination of sexual content, (2) to analyze the prevalence of further victimization as a result of non-consensual dissemination of sexting and (3) to investigate the association between secondary victimization as a result of non-consensual dissemination of sexting and psychopathology. The sample comprised 1370 Spanish college students (73.6% female; mean age = 21.4 years; SD = 4.85) who answered an online survey about their engagement in sexting behaviors, online sexual victimization and psychopathology, measured by a sexting scale and the Listado de Síntomas Breve (LSB-50), respectively. Overall, 43 participants (3.14) were victims of non-consensual dissemination of sexting, and results showed those participants who had suffered further victimization reported higher psychopathology scores than those who were not victimized and that being victimized by an ex-partner was associated with poorer mental health outcomes in the victim. Further implications are discussed.
... Per alcune persone è un modo per esplorare la sessualità, l'altrui fiducia, i confini di un gioco virtuale e l'intimità. Tuttavia, in alcuni casi, il sexting viene utilizzato per prevaricare, ricattare o sfruttare (Agustina & Gómez-Durán, 2012;Döring, 2014;Gámez-Guadix et al., 2015). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the main issues related to the use of the Internet as a contribution to the creation of shared definitions and comparable studies. The first part illustrates the synthesis of the reference scientific literature with particular attention to the definition of constructs, to the main evidence on treatments and strategies for preventing Internet addiction; a chapter is dedicated to the presentation of the emerging phenomenon of social withdrawal (hikikomori) and its implications with Internet addiction. The second part describes the project named “Rete senza fili. Salute e Internet Addiction: tante connessioni possibili” and the activities of some partners of the project. Finally, the third part summarizes some practical experiences of the local social and health resources who participated in the Technical Roundtable for the mapping and census of territorial resources for Internet addictions.
... Este término define el acto de transmitir mensajes o videos con contenido sexual sugerente o explícito a otras personas (Ahern, & Mechling, 2013; Observatorio de la Seguridad de la Información de INTECO y Pantallas Amigas, 2011)., y desde allí, se ha comprobado en muchos países se práctica cada vez en aumento inicialmente en países anglosajones (en Ahern, & Mechling, 2013;Ramos, 2014). Esta nueva forma de interacción se considera como fenómeno social derivado de la globalización (Agustina, & Gómez-Durán, 2012), de la inmediatez de las comunicaciones, del valor que ha adquirido la exposición de la imagen (Rojas, 2013). Aunque se desconoce la verdadera prevalencia entre los adolescentes y adultos jóvenes, existen investigaciones importantes que han dado luces al respecto (Ahern, & Mechling, 2013;Acosta, 2015). ...
... Since the phenomenon began to attract the attention of clinicians and researchers, it has been operationalized in different ways. 24 Therefore, there is no one definition that is valid for all. In this case, sexting was considered to be the act of sending/ receiving/posting sexually explicit messages or nude, or sexually suggestive digital images of oneself or others via a cell phone, Internet email, or social network. ...
In the early 2020s, the world was challenged by the COVID-19 emergency. Due to the dangerousness of the virus, the main intent of each country involved was to limit the diffusion in order to contain the damage caused by the pandemic. An aspect that has been deeply changed by self-isolation -used as a measure of containment of the virus- is related to sexuality. A practice that assumes importance in this sense is sexting, i.e., the act of sending/receiving sexually explicit messages, photos or videos via device. This practice allows a certain level of intimate behavior while eliminating the possibility of contagion. This study aims - through a qualitative survey - to investigate whether sexting is perceived as a potential addiction or adaptive sexual behavior to social distancing and lockdown policies by COVID-19. In order to do this, 37 subjects aged between 19 and 39 years were recruited - through probability sampling. We used the semi-structured interview method and then, through thematic analysis of the interviews, it emerged that, according to our sample, sexting was perceived to be more of an addiction than an adaptive behavior; despite this, it is possible that the practice of sexting has changed with the current societal situation.
... Sanal zorbalık ile ilgili bazı araştırmalarda genellikle sanal zorbalık durumlarının lise düzeyinde görüldüğü bildirilse de gerçekleştirilen birçok araştırmada bu durumun üniversite düzeyinde de hızla devam ettiği, çoğunlukla ailesinden ayrı okumak zorunda kalan öğrencilerin daha çok risk altında olduğu bildirilmektedir (10,11). Birçok durumda cinsel içerikli mesajlaşma ile başlayan genç yetişkinler arasındaki iletişim, zamanla sanal zorbalığa dönüşmektedir (13). Gerçekleştirilen bir sistematik derleme çalışmasında üniversite öğrencileri arasında bu tür mesajlaşma oranının %7-27 arasında olduğu, bu durumun olumsuz sonucunun sanal kurbanların intiharına kadar uzanabildiği belirlenmiştir (14). ...
... As a result, there have been media reports on the increase of sexting and also, worryingly, of sexual harassment and victimization using phones or online media [1][2][3]. Although controversial, sexting has been defined as the act of sending, receiving, and/or forwarding nude or semi-nude pictures or videos through electronic devices and/or social media platforms [4,5]. Voluntary and consensual sexting between adults is considered by most scholars to be a form of normal sexual expression [6]; however, it has also been conceptualized as a risky behavior that increases vulnerability to online sexual victimization (OSV), such as sexting coercion, non-consensual dissemination of sexual content, revenge porn, sextortion, or online grooming [7]. ...
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown has impacted daily routines, forcing people to stop socializing in person and changing the way people express their feelings and their romantic or sexual interactions. Social distancing has changed the way people behave online, and we expect that engagement in sexting and online sexual victimization behaviors have increased during lockdown. The aim of this paper is to study the prevalence of sexting and online sexual victimization behaviors during the COVID-19 lockdown in Spanish adults in order to explore how social distancing has affected these behaviors. The sample comprised 293 Spanish adults (mean age = 30.3; 66.2% female) who took part in an online survey about their engagement in sexting behaviors and online sexual victimization experiences. Overall results were apparently not supportive of our main hypothesis, showing that both sexting engagement and online sexual victimization decreased during lockdown despite the increase in internet use. Apart from differences in time period of reference, some alternative hypotheses relate to the increased presence of capable guardians according to the routine activities theory and to forced distance as a demotivation to sext. Possible explanations and hypotheses for these results are discussed further in the paper.
... However, Spaniards reported receiving more sexts than Americans. These results could be explained by the accessibility of technology and globalization of sexting [30], since Spanish sexters could be sending sexts to a broader number of recipients or participants could be receiving sexts from people who are not Spanish, thus explaining why they sext less but receive more sexts. Furthermore, active sexting could be underreported in comparison with passive sexting, with an underreporting bias in Spanish population but not in Americans. ...
Full-text available
Despite the growing body of research regarding sexting and online sexual victimization, there is little evidence exploring cultural differences in association with those behaviors. The aim of this study was to examine cultural differences in sexting practices by comparing an American sample and a Spanish sample of university students. The original sample was composed of 1799 college students, including 1386 Spanish college students and 413 American Students, with 74% of female participants, and ages ranging from 18 to 64 years old (mean age = 21.26, SD= 4.61). Results indicate that American students sext more than Spanish students and have higher probabilities of being victims of nonconsensual dissemination of their sexual content. However, Spanish students receive more sexts than American students. Although our results show differences between the Spanish and the American samples that might be modulated by cultural factors, the vulnerability of females regarding sexting remains unchanged. Additionally, differences in specific characteristics of the behaviors (such as perceived risk, receiver of the sexual content, intensity of the sexual content, and motive for sexting) were also studied. Further results and implications are discussed in relation to cultural differences.
Full-text available
Sexting is defined as the sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, images, or photos through electronic means, particularly between cell phones. Media Researchers have raised alarm on the prevalence of sexting among adolescents and youths generally and the negative consequences associated with it. This paper, examines the prevalence and motivating factors for sexting among Nigerian youths to determine if it is a form of online self-portrayal. The study was anchored on two theories: The Uses and Gratification Theory and The Play Theory. The study area was universities in Imo state and three universities were sampled each from Federal, State and Private Universities which made up the study population. The survey design was adopted as the study methodology and the questionnaire was used as the data collection instrument. A sample size of 300 undergraduates was selected from three universities selected from federal, state and private Universities through multi-stage sampling technique. Findings from the study revealed that, the popularity of sexting among Nigerian youths was very high and it serves as a form of self-representation online but they are not aware of the negative consequences. Most of the youths engage in sexting because they believe that sexting help them to be known and attracts more attention to their profiles. Based on these findings, the study recommends among others that an intensive sensitization should be carried out, either through seminars, campaigns or publications to inform these youths of the negative consequences of Sexting and that parents and families as agents of socialization should intensify their sexual socialization roles.
Sexting, and the cyber violence that may result from it, such as revenge porn, have received great attention from many different scientific disciplines. The present study incorporates an important dimension in the research conducted on these expanding digital behaviours, namely place and its influence on the effects that may unfold. Our objective has been to study, from a feminist perspective, the practices of sexting and revenge porn, the gender implications and its consequences for young people in a rural Spanish context. For this, we undertook a qualitative methodology obtained from in-depth interviews (N = 40) carried out with young people (22 women and 18 men) between 18 and 24 years of age who reside in rural areas in northern Extremadura (Spain). The results show that transgressions of gender mandates through sexting pose a greater challenge for young women in life environments in which there is little space for it to go unnoticed. The characteristics of rurality accentuate the effects for the protagonists of the non-consensual circulation of images, such as greater social pressure or the devaluation of their femininity. The findings are discussed and contributions to the debate on the responsibility of young women in the agency of sexting and its consequences are included.
El grooming online hacia niños y adolescentes es una problemática de suma gravedad. El objetivo de esta investigación fue medir los niveles de grooming online padecido y si el género, la edad, el sexting y los problemas emocionales eran predictores de dicha conducta. Se constituyó una muestra intencional de 727 adolescentes entre 12 y 16 años (59% mujeres) de dos escuelas privadas de la ciudad de Paraná, Argentina. Se detectó un 20% de casos de grooming, con 17% recibiendo solicitaciones por parte de adultos y un 12% de interacciones con adultos. Más varones que mujeres sufrían de grooming –aunque marginalmente- e interacciones. También a mayor edad de los adolescentes se incrementaba linealmente el grooming, las solicitaciones e interacciones. Se observó que se predecía una varianza del 23% para el grooming, de 22% para solicitudes y 23% para interacciones, con la edad, la depresión y el sexting como los predictores significativos. Los resultados indicarían que esta problemática presenta porcentajes alarmantes en dicha población.
Full-text available
Recently, a phenomenon known as sexting, defined here as the transfer of sexually explicit photos via cell phone, has received substantial attention in the U.S. national media. To determine the current and potential future impact of sexting, more information about the behavior and the attitudes and beliefs surrounding it must be gathered, particularly as it relates to sexting by minors. The present study was designed to provide preliminary information about this phenomenon. Participants were 606 high school students (representing 98 % of the available student body) recruited from a single private high school in the southwestern U.S. Nearly 20 % of all participants reported they had ever sent a sexually explicit image of themselves via cell phone while almost twice as many reported that they had ever received a sexually explicit picture via cell phone and, of these, over 25 % indicated that they had forwarded such a picture to others. Of those reporting having sent a sexually explicit cell phone picture, over a third did so despite believing that there could be serious legal and other consequences attached to the behavior. Given the potential legal and psychological risks associated with sexting, it is important for adolescents, parents, school administrators, and even legislators and law enforcement to understand this behavior.
Full-text available
To examine characteristics of youth sexting cases handled by police and their outcomes in response to clinical and other concerns about the risks of sexting behavior. Mail surveys were sent to a stratified national sample of 2712 law enforcement agencies followed by detailed telephone interviews with investigators about a nationally representative sample of sexting cases handled by police during 2008 and 2009 (n = 675). The cases involved "youth-produced sexual images" that constituted child pornography under relevant statutes according to respondents. US law enforcement agencies handled an estimated 3477 cases of youth-produced sexual images during 2008 and 2009 (95% confidence interval: 3282-3672). Two-thirds of the cases involved an "aggravating" circumstance beyond the creation and/or dissemination of a sexual image. In these aggravated cases, either an adult was involved (36% of cases) or a minor engaged in malicious, non-consensual, or abusive behavior (31% of cases). An arrest occurred in 62% of cases with an adult involved, in 36% of the aggravated youth-only cases, and in 18% of the "experimental" cases (youth-only and no aggravating elements). Most of the images (63%) were distributed by cell phone only and did not reach the Internet. Sex offender registration applied in only a few unusual cases. Many of the youth sexting cases that come to the attention of police include aggravating circumstances that raise concerns about health and risky sexual behavior, although some cases were relatively benign. Overall, arrest is not typical in cases with no adults involved.
Full-text available
To obtain national estimates of youth involved in sexting in the past year (the transmission via cell phone, the Internet, and other electronic media of sexual images), as well as provide details of the youth involved and the nature of the sexual images. The study was based on a cross-sectional national telephone survey of 1560 youth Internet users, ages 10 through 17. Estimates varied considerably depending on the nature of the images or videos and the role of the youth involved. Two and one-half percent of youth had appeared in or created nude or nearly nude pictures or videos. However, this percentage is reduced to 1.0% when the definition is restricted to only include images that were sexually explicit (ie, showed naked breasts, genitals, or bottoms). Of the youth who participated in the survey, 7.1% said they had received nude or nearly nude images of others; 5.9% of youth reported receiving sexually explicit images. Few youth distributed these images. Because policy debates on youth sexting behavior focus on concerns about the production and possession of illegal child pornography, it is important to have research that collects details about the nature of the sexual images rather than using ambiguous screening questions without follow-ups. The rate of youth exposure to sexting highlights a need to provide them with information about legal consequences of sexting and advice about what to do if they receive a sexting image. However, the data suggest that appearing in, creating, or receiving sexual images is far from being a normative behavior for youth.
Several legal cases in the United States in which adolescents were charged with child pornography distribution after sharing nude photographs of themselves with romantic partners or others have highlighted the issue of sexting behaviors among youth. Although policy makers, mental health workers, educators and parents have all expressed concern regarding the potential harm of sexting behaviors, little to no research has examined this phenomenon empirically. The current study presents some preliminary data on the incidence of sexting behavior and associated high risk sexual behaviors in a sample of 207 predominantly Hispanic young women age 16-25. Approximately 20% of young women reported engaging in sexting behavior. Sexting behaviors were not associated with most other high-risk sexual behaviors, but were slightly more common in women who found sex to be highly pleasurable or who displayed histrionic personality traits.
This study was designed to track trends in reports of unwanted sexual solicitations, harassment, and unwanted exposure to pornography via the Internet between 2000 and 2005 across various demographic sub-groups of youth. Cross-sectional data was collected in two equivalent national telephone surveys of 1500 Internet users, ages 10 through 17 years. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to determine whether the percentage of youth reporting specific unwanted Internet experiences had changed in 2005, as compared with 2000. The overall incidence and 5-year trends of reporting unwanted sexual solicitations, harassment, and unwanted exposure to pornography varied by age, gender, race, and household income. In particular, the decline in the percentage of youth reporting sexual solicitations was apparent for both boys and girls, all age groups, but not among minority youth and those living in less affluent households. The increase in harassment among particular sub-groups of youth was largely explained by increases in amount of Internet use over the past five years. The increase in unwanted exposure to pornography was particularly apparent among 10- to 12-year-olds, 16- to 17-year-olds, boys, and White, non-Hispanic youth. The decline in the percentage of youth reporting sexual solicitations may be the effect of education and law enforcement activity on this issue in the intervening years. Targeted prevention efforts for minority youth and those living in less affluent households need to be developed. The rise in unwanted pornography exposure may reflect technological changes such as digital photography, faster Internet connections and computer storage capacities, as well as the more aggressive marketing strategies of pornography merchants.
Sexting by Spanish university students
  • J Agustina
  • E L Gómez-Durán
Digital abuse survey. Knowledge networks
  • Associated Press
Study on safety and privacy in the use of mobile services by Spanish minors
  • P Pérez
  • S Fuente
  • L García
  • J Guijarro
  • M E Blas
Pérez, P., Fuente, S., García, L., Guijarro, J. & Blas, M. E. (2010, April). Study on safety and privacy in the use of mobile services by Spanish minors. Retrieved from Observatory/Studies/English_Estudio_moviles_menores
Sharing personal images and videos among young people
  • A Phippen
Phippen, A. (2009). Sharing personal images and videos among young people. Retrieved from documents/sexting-detail.pdf