Social networking sites are involved in 33 percent of Internet-initiated sex crimes, according to Internet Safety 101 and the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Some of the major reasons teenagers send sexually explicit photos include the following:
Peer pressure or cyberbullying
Rebelliousness, or the sense that they should be allowed to make their own decisions
As a romantic gesture
Because it feels naughty, liberating or grown-up
As a sexual favor in exchange for other services
Below are some other statistics useful in developing a rounded picture:
Girls are slightly more likely to send explicit photos than boys.
Of teenagers that do send sexually explicit photos, about 10 percent willfully send them to people they don’t even know. One teen girl even sent nude photos of herself to an entire school hockey team.
Approximately 80 percent of young people in the US under the age of 18 believe sexting is wrong, although some of those same teens do it anyway.
Data from the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire suggest that sharing personal information electronically does not on its own correlate with an increased risk of harm. According to a survey of American adolescents, three out of four think sharing personal information or photos online falls between «somewhat safe» and «somewhat unsafe,» similar to how they perceive the dangers of underage drinking.
Where teens fall short is in their understanding of the legal ramifications of sexting. Simply stated, sending sexts of people under 18 years of age is illegal. Beyond online reputation, teens who send sexually explicit photos can be convicted of child pornography charges and have their names permanently placed on registered sex offender lists. One Florida youth received five years’ probation and registration as a sex offender when he sent nude photos of his ex-girlfriend to her entire family and school.
This scenario is made worse by the fact that teens are highly likely to share the sexts they receive, with little regard to the electronic privacy of the sender. Even if your child would never engage in sexting under normal circumstances, the temptation to forward unsolicited naked photos of a classmate, like the ones sent by the Florida teen above, can be hard to resist. But it can land your child in jail.