Monday, February 03, 2014

#Sexting - what is it? How often does it occur?

“Sexting” is when someone takes a picture or video of themselves and shares it with someone using a cell phone. It was derived from the word “texting” but applies when they do the same thing using any other kind of digital technology such as a webcam, digital camera or digital video device. Sexting has been going on since at least 1998, when Parry Aftab learned of a middle school student who took sexual videos of herself to share with a boy she liked and wanted to date. Those images were posted on peer-to-peer networks in existence at that time and everyone in her school, neighborhood and community heard about or saw the video.

Since then, it has become more common. Some experts estimate that “sexting” among minors (under 18 years of age) involves roughly 20% of teen girls. (Among those sexually active, the number increases to 30% or more.) The truth is that no one knows how often it happens. Most of the sexual images teens share stay private. What we do know, based upon the research and work of Wiredsafety, is that:

·        Once teens are sexually intimate, it is common that the girl is asked to share at least one nude or sexual image or video with the boy;
·        Some teen girls will share a nude image with a boy they are seeing instead of being sexually intimate or to delay intimacy;
·        44% of high school boys polled by WiredSafety said they had seen at least one nude or sexual image of a female classmate;
·        10% of the high school boys polled by WiredSafety said they had sent a nude pic to a girl (often unsolicited);
·        Preteens often take nude pictures or pictures in their underwear to look older or more sophisticated;
·        Some teens think that by sending a nude or sexual image to a boy they like or boys they want to attract they stand a better chance of being asked out by them;
·        The image of a girl is often shared among boys, but moves faster among other students if it is sent by other girls to embarrass her;
·        Even if the boy never voluntarily shares the image with anyone else, their friends, siblings or parents may stumble across it when using or searching their devices;
·        These images are often taken in anger, when under the influence of drugs, alcohol or peer-pressure, or in desperation to please a partner;
·        Some boys have used knowledge of a girl having posed for a sexting or sexing image to extort them into taking more sexual pictures or engage in sex acts with them; and
·        Some adult men do the same, and teen sexting or sexing images may end up in predator teen photo galleries and shared among some registered sex offenders.

MTV’s A Thin Line campaign (for which Parry Aftab is an advisor) conducted a survey with Associated Press. They learned that young people who engage in sexting are 3 times more likely to consider suicide as those who hadn’t engaged in sexting.