Lauren Anjema was in sixth grade the first time a boy asked her to send him a nude photo of herself. Anjema, now As social isolation and device usage soared during the pandemic, digital-media experts say the sharing of nude selfies and other sexually explicit messages among teens and tweens has only gotten worse. A meta-analysis on sexting—the act of sending nude photos, videos or sexual messages— published in JAMA Pediatrics found that 1 in 7 adolescents have sent sexts, 1 in 4 have received sexts and 1 in 8 have forwarded sexts without the consent of the person in the photo. Several teens I interviewed said sharing nudes has become a prerequisite for dating, with girls feeling pressured to send photos. The ramifications of requesting, sharing and possessing nude photos of minors can range from reputational damage to criminal prosecution. A study published in found that more than three times as many girls as boys felt pressured to send a sext, and that twice as many girls as boys had been asked to send a sext. Sheri Madigan, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Calgary and an author of the meta-analysis, conducted an as-yet-unpublished update that found a shift to girls receiving more sexts than boys. This raises a question of consent, said Dr. Are girls increasingly receiving unwanted sexts from boys?
‘We blame the victim every time’
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Decrying a wave of nude selfies being uploaded by kids across America, the Los Angeles County sheriff on Sunday sent an open letter warning of the huge risk of kids snapping obscene pictures of their nude bodies. Obscene selfies "are forever present on the Internet, viewed and traded like baseball cards by child molesters, predators, and extortionists,'' Sheriff Jim McDonnell wrote in a letter posted on Facebook and other social media sites. The sheriff warned parents to understand the legal jeopardy for teens sending nude photos over the internet or cellular devices. The department's Human Trafficking Bureau has investigated episodes of nude pictures of children on the web, with 81 of those cases in the past 73 days, he said. Or, he continued, they were duped into taking the nude selfies by someone posing as a friend or teenage acquaintance. And he said the consequences for the children can be catastrophic as the nude images are reposted on file sharing sites, "exponentially exposing these inappropriate and illegal images of a young girl or boy. Click here to read the full letter.
North Carolina high schooler and his girlfriend face legal proceedings over selfies as both the adult perpetrators and minor victims. A teenage boy in North Carolina has been prosecuted for having nude pictures of himself on his own mobile phone. The young man, who is now 17 but was 16 at the time the photos were discovered, had to strike a plea deal to avoid potentially going to jail and being registered as a sex offender. Experts condemned the case as ludicrous.
And most of those who do experience no negative consequences. But for teens who do share sexually explicit images, there are both psychological and legal risks, especially if coercion is involved and the images wind up being distributed beyond their intended audience. Sexting is certainly not just a teen issue, but these tips are specifically for teens and parents of teens. Various causes The reasons teens share sexually explicit images vary widely. There are also cases where the teen is responding to peer pressure, bullying or even threats. In rarer cases, adults solicit images from teens. Possible consequences The consequences of sexting can range from nothing at all to extremely serious. In most cases, nothing bad happens because the image is never shared beyond the person it was sent to.