Teens send sexually explicit images without understanding the consequences
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One of the ways to reduce the number of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among teens is to find out what teens think of sex and if they realize the potential consequences of sexual activity. Recently, a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that a significant number of teenagers send and receive sexually explicit cell phone photos. Furthermore, these young people have little or no awareness of the potential psychological, interpersonal and even legal ramifications of these images.
For example, in many states, sending or receiving an explicit image of a person under the age of 18 is against the law, and can result in being registered as a sex offender. Also, the person in the photos could be subjected to humiliation, especially if the image falls into the wrong hands. Researchers from the University of Utah set out to determine how prevalent this type of behavior is among teens, and whether they were aware of these consequences.
The scientists spoke to more than 600 high school students in the U.S. and gave them a questionnaire about how often they sent explicit messages or images to their peers, and what they thought potential problems associated with this behavior might be.
Some 20 percent of students, some as young as 14, had sent sexual images and twice as many said they had received them, the investigators found. Furthermore, 25 percent of these young people indicated that they had forwarded the image they received to others.
"These results argue for educational efforts such as cell phone safety assemblies, awareness days, integration into class curriculum and teacher training, designed to raise awareness about the potential consequences of sexting among young people," concluded study authors.
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